In a season usually full of giving hearts and open pocketbooks, Chicago's Salvation Army branches are hurting for holiday donations.
Becky Simmons, captain of the Red Shield Center in Englewood, says the number of toy donations "is the worst I’ve ever seen it."
Simmons said she’s afraid that a week from today, on the center's Christmas present distribution day, only 25 percent of the children and families on the list to be "adopted" will get a gift.
In other words, of the 1,200 children belonging to 400 families the Englewood center planned to serve as part of the Salvation Army's Adopt-A-Family program, about 100 families or about 300 kids will have something to open if nothing improves.
Most years, Simmons said, two rooms and a basement are full of gifts by now. Not this year.
In fact, she said all of the Salvation Army Community Centers throughout Chicago and its suburbs are experiencing toy shortages.
It’s too late to adopt a family through the program, and Chicago centers are now issuing a blanket, desperate plea for unwrapped, new toy donations, especially for older kids ages 12-17.
New, unwrapped toys for children of all ages may be brought to The Salvation Army’s Divisional Headquarters, at 5040 North Pulaski Road, in Chicago.
For further information, or to find a Salvation Army Corps Community Center near you, please call 773-205-3520 or go to www.salarmychicago.org/locations.
Thrift stores will not accept donations.