HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s no question that Tennessee Valley residents are generous with their time and money, whenever they can be.
But this year, apparently generosity has been strained, for one reason or another, and at least two charities, specifically, have felt the pain.
In south Huntsville, Tasha Blackburn took home Christmas joy for her children on Tuesday, courtesy of Toys for Tots.
“This will give them toys and I’ll be able to get their clothes,” she said, toting along two young children.
Tuesday morning started off with anything but joy for the Marines, specifically the coordinator, Master Sergeant Keith Langford.
“We just completely had run out of toys,” Langford said.
For a short time, he had to turn away families who came to their location in Haysland Square.
But he says his boss bailed him out with an extra $20,000 for 640 families already registered for Christmas toys and up to 500 more families who signed up Tuesday, during a special one-day registration and distribution.
Langford said he ended up in this position because of what he counted on and didn’t get in donations around north Alabama.
The reason, he said, “It’s probably a combination of the economy and the job market.”
Furthermore, he says smaller charities around north Alabama look to Toys for Tots to bail them out when they run short on donations.
He said Toys for Tots has helped 25,000 children this year, as compared to 17,000 last year. And they’re not struggling alone.
Kids to Love, a non-profit catering to 1,100 foster children, also came up short this year on items people committed to buy and donate, but didn’t.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Lee Marshall, founder of Kids to Love and WHNT News 19 anchor.
Marshall said the Kids to Love donation drive ended Monday with the distribution of what they collected, but as of Tuesday, there were still about 90 wish lists unfilled. That means the possibility of children finding nothing under their Christmas trees.
“That won’t happen,” said Marshall.
Other major charities have different experiences. A spokesman with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree campaign actually says they fared well, with enough donations to cover all adopted angels as well as those that weren’t.