by Susan Fried
The Holidays, like everything this year, have been changed by COVID-19, and one of the annual programs affected by that change is Toys for Tots, an organization with over 70 years experience distributing toy donations to the community. Traditionally, Seattle fire fighters partnered with the Marine Corps by collecting donated toys at Seattle fire stations, but due to COVID, this year the Marines and the Seattle Fire Department held two drive-through drop-off events: one on Saturday, December 5 at University Village in North Seattle and one on Saturday, December 12, in the QFC parking lot on Rainier Avenue South.
Carol Slosberg, who lives in South Seattle, said, “when my kids were young we picked gift requests off the tree at U Village. This year I decided to stay closer to home and this toy drive fits that. The need feels especially overwhelming this year.”
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Edward Chapman said that the need in King County has increased dramatically. Last year, Toys for Tots provided 94 organizations with toys; this year they’re helping 160 nonprofit agencies and organizations. The demand was so great that as of December 11, Toys for Tots had to close the agency request page on their website.
The weather was perfect for dropping off gifts, and dozens of people showed up, filling the toy collection boxes to overflowing. The operation was so successful that the Marines filled their van from top to bottom and had no room left for the collection boxes. Next year, they’d like to hold four or five drive-through donation events, up from the two they held this year.
Susan Fried has worked as a Seattle-based photojournalist for the last 20 years.
Featured image: Lilikai (2), with a little help from her mom, drops money into the donation box at a Toys for Tots collection event on December 12 in the QFC parking lot on Rainier Ave. South. (Photo: Susan Fried)