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Bay Area Toy Drive Organizers Say Need For Donations Greater Than Last Year

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The need this year for toys for Bay Area children is greater than last year, toy drive organizers said Thursday.

Volunteers with San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 expected to give out toys Thursday to 500 children between noon and 1 p.m. at the Handlery Union Square Hotel at 351 Geary St. in San Francisco.

By about 2:15 p.m. volunteers had given out thousands of toys and were still handing them out, toy program chair Jill Peeler said.

"Our line is non-stop," Peeler said.

Volunteers had already emptied toys out of two large U-Haul trucks and will be giving toys out until midnight.

Firefighters and police will be going around San Francisco after 10 a.m. Christmas Day to deliver toys to be sure no child goes without one, she said.

Peeler also said she is seeing not only low-income families requesting gifts but middle-class families too who are having a hard time paying rent and buying food in San Francisco.

Also in San Francisco, volunteers were outside at 6 a.m. this morning in front of Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant & Sports Bar at 333 Geary St.  to hand out toys.

Organizers are aiming to collect more than last year's record of 15,000 toys.

Both San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Lefty O'Doul's owner Nick Bovis said the need is greater this year than ever.

Unfortunately the rain has limited donations, toy drive spokesman Lee Houskeeper said.

"We're running a little short of our goal," he said.

He cited a particular need for gift cards for girls between 10 and 16 years old.

"They love gift cards," Houskeeper said.

Lefty's volunteers will be delivering toys until midnight and people can also donate a toy in different dollar denominations at

Radio show host Mark Anthony of Danville also said the need this year is greater than last year.

"The need is greater than it was last year or the year before," Anthony said.

Employers have reduced the number of full-time workers to avoid paying health benefits and parents are working two and three part time jobs to pay the bills, he said.

Volunteers helping Anthony with the toy drive were scheduled to wrap toys at 10 a.m. today at St. Anthony's Catholic School at 1500 E. 15th St. in Oakland.

Petaluma police said the need for toys was greater this year than expected.

Police selected 14 children to participate in the Shop With A Cop program at 7 a.m. on Monday at Target at 401 Kenilworth Drive in Petaluma.

Fourteen children chose gifts and because of donations officers were able to shop for more families, police said.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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