Toys for Tots in need of donations to reach goal

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

The Toys for Tots program desperately needs help to put presents under Christmas trees for more than 25,000 needy children in central Florida.

The charity says many of their shelves are sitting empty.

"Typically it's a mountain of toys, but at this point, you can see right now, it's fairly bare," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Chris Hoagland, pointing out empty shelves at a warehouse.

Officials said it's like that in just about every area of the Toys for Tots warehouse in Orlando.

Empty shelves, barren aisles and bare floors that are usually stacked with toys are a far cry from the way volunteers hoped they'd look right now.

"With two weeks to go, it's a big concern for me right now," said Hoagland.

December 14 is the last day to drop off toys. Toys for Tots officials said 25,000 needy children in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties are already signed up to receive toys.

For years, Channel 9 has shown how the program helps struggling families, and folks like Colleen Ducot and her children.

Last year Ducot's family fell on hard times and would have had nothing under the tree, without Toys for Tots.

This year the Ducot family is back on its feet and is helping others who are in need. 

"Now that we're able to move on, we can give back," said Ducot.

Organizers at the Orlando warehouse said they have gathered about 40 percent of the gifts they need.

They said they are confident, with the public's help, that they will reach their goal, and make a difference for the thousands of families who are counting on them.

"Every bit counts. Every bit of it counts. No matter how big or small it all counts," said Hoagland.

You can donate to Toys for Tots by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the WFTV Channel 9 studios at 490 E. South Street in Orlando, or to a drop off location near you.