Toys for Tots donations down twenty-five-percent this year, but organizers hopeful

MARINES JOSHUA SMITH, LEFT, AND JON SHANEYFELT load one of six boxes of toys for the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Foundation at Talley’s Bar-BQ and Biscuit Factory, 623 Main Street.

Anyone taking a seat at Talley’s Bar-BQ and Biscuit Factory had better be ready for more than a menu, a smile and a glass of water.

“We harass them,” said Cindy Buehrer, a waitress at Talley’s,  623 Main St. “We are very brutal.”

The harassment and brutality, as relentless as it might be, begins a day after Thanksgiving, lasts through the weekend before Christmas and comes with a smile. Buehrer and her fellow employees are collecting for a good cause: the U.S. Marines Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Foundation.

With six boxes overflowing with games, stuffed animals, Hula-Hoops, puzzles and more, it is easy to believe it when Buehrer says: “Nobody gets away.”

But over at the Toys for Tots distribution center, across First Street from the City Market, next door to Catholic Outreach, the warehouse is not as full as last year.

“At this point we have about 3,000 (toys),” said Sue Tuffin, director of the Mesa County Workforce Center. She donates time helping coordinate the annual Toys for Tots drive and giveaway.

“We had almost 4,000 (toys) at this time last year,” she said.

Toys for Tots stopped accepting applications from needy families earlier this week because of the toy shortage, but reopened that list after more donations poured in Wednesday.

It’s the economy, said Rich Griffin, this year’s coordinator for the Western Slope/Grand Junction Toys for Tots program.

“A lot of people are not sure what is going to happen tomorrow,” he said Wednesday as volunteers busied themselves all around, preparing for this morning’s toys distribution.

To assure every child has a present for Christmas, Toys for Tots volunteers are asking the community for help. To make donating easier, Tuffin suggested families could cut back, just a tad, on presents for their own relatives and give a dollar or two to Toys for Tots.

Tuffin suggested families could come together and purchase one present for the program.

Other options include companies creating an office fund to buy presents, or employees could donate a portion of their Christmas bonus, she said.

The biggest need this year is for toys for older children, around the age of 14, Tuffin said.


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