Local charitable groups are rushing to gather toys for needy children after an apparent paperwork snafu at Toys for Tots has left many of them without expected gifts.
"There were about 50 families that we were anticipating receiving toys," says Will Thompkins, interim executive director at the Pittsburgh Project. "We were surprised that we didn’t receive them this year.”
Thompkins says his organization has participated in the Marines' Toys for Tots program for about seven years. This year, he says, "they said they never received our paperwork.”
Other local organizations, including East Liberty's Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, are telling similar stories about having submitted paperwork, but never hearing back.
Toys for Tots did not immediately respond to an email request for comment — though the Trib
is reporting they plan to put out a statement later today.
Those who are interested in helping local organizations, including Sisters Helping Sisters, Neighborhood Living Project, Community Human Services and the Allegheny Traditional Academy can drop toys off at the following locations and times:
Most Wanted Fine Art:
210 West Bridge Street next to Panera Bread at The Waterfront Friday and Saturday (noon-9 p.m.); Sunday (noon-6 p.m.)
Most Wanted Fine Art:
5015 Penn Ave; anytime, call ahead to drop off toys 412-508-6782.
Monetary donations are also being solicited through iheartpgh
UPDATE: Toys for Tots responded with a statement claiming "there is no record of any completed request having been submitted by the agencies in question."
19 December 2014
To whom it may concern:
This is in response to recent reports regarding this year’s Toys for Tots campaign and the inability to provide toys to some non-profit organizations. I hope with this statement to clarify both the process for non-profit organizations to apply for toys, as well as the events that have been reported in the past 24 hours.
The following is the process for which a non-profit organization can obtain toys. The first step for the organization is to log onto the toys for tots website which iswww.toysfortots.org and register under “non-profit agency” and fill out the request. Once that is received into the system, an automatic reply is sent from the website confirming the request was properly submitted. This confirmation email contains a control number which is used to track the request through all subsequent stages. I have personally tested the system to confirm what is contained in the automatically generated email from the system. Simultaneously an email is sent to the local administrator, as well as our volunteer/warehouse managers (Pittsburgh Cares for this area). Once the local Toys for Tots administrator and warehouse managers are notified of an approved request in the system; the organization will be contacted for additional information. The additional information that is requested at that time is as follows, proof of 501c status, a list of names, ages and addresses of all children to receive toys. Once this information is provided to us at Toys for Tots we are able to begin filling the order. Due to the high number or requests there is also a strict deadline to register. This is to ensure that there is an adequate number of toys available for all organizations requiring toys. This year (2014) the deadline to register for non-profits was November 15. Orders began being filled on approximately December 1 for non-profits who met the deadline. Our policy is to always approve requests that are submitted on time and when all required documentation is provided. This system for requesting toys has been in place for the past several years.
In the past 24 hours it has been reported that some non-profits have been denied toys this year. After reviewing the Toys for Tots online system there is no record of any completed request having been submitted by the agencies in question. Agencies with incomplete online applications were notified that there was insufficient information input to the system concerning their orders and toys would be provided if available. In this same communication, agencies were urged to send their clients to the Open House, where individuals in need could access toys directly.
Unfortunately this year donations are lower than in years past and requests are up. In order for us to continue to fill all current agency requests that met the deadline and have our open house, requests that came in after the deadline may not be met on their timeline or at all.
All of this is accomplished with volunteers and donations provided by the local community to provide a happy holiday to families in need. We will continue to do so in the future. We will work to fill orders until the 23rd of December or until donations run out.
Toys for Tots Coordinator North Versailles, PA