ATLANTA -- Just days before Christmas 2011, Toys for Tots in Atlanta was struggling. "There's a lot of emotion going on now: disappointment, anger, frustration." Theresa Wilhite said at the time. "We can only give what we have."
For the first time, every order to providing agencies was cut short. Everyone got something, but no one got everything they requested.
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"The need for toys is growing, so the need for us to collect more toys is always there," Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jason Tollett said from a warehouse in Marietta. "You can see from the storage, we need more toys."
In 2012, the historic efforts will continue. It will mark 65 years of pushing that Christmas Eve deadline. "The logistics are pretty intense," Tollett said. "It comes down to the wire, right before Christmas."
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After last year's last minute shortage, the Atlanta Toys for Tots website carries a special request: "Please bring your collected toys to a collection site as early as possible. It is a tremendous help to our operations to receive as many toys earlier, than later!"
Organizers for metro Atlanta's 17 county area say they hope to beat last year's 750,000 toy count. There are hundreds of drop-off locations, including all Publix and Toys "R" Us stores.
Tollett said the challenge is getting people to act. "If you're walking around shopping and you see an empty box, put a toy in it," he said. "Think about when you see your kid on Christmas morning, you know how they are. They open it up, and the joy it brings them."