Toys for Tots collection in Sevier County, 2012. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Organizers for Toys for Tots in Sevier County say donations are down and they may not have enough toys to meet needs this Christmas.
Ron Russell volunteers his time to organize the program, he says so far they've collected more than 4,000 toys, but still 3,000 more are needed. Russell is unemployed and says there is a big need in the community for help.
"We did 6500 kids last year, 3 toys per child," said Russell. "A lot of people have lost their jobs, and they're in need of some, we've got disasters going on, not only up in New England but even around here. People have lost their homes due to fire."
Russell spends is days picking up toys from collection points and sorting through them at the warehouse site at the Pigeon Forge Outlet Mall.
Several businesses are collecting toys and are planning events where toys will be collected.
On Sunday, December 9, the Wilderness Resort will host the Santa Hustle for the 2nd year. Nearly 3000 people are expected to participate in the Santa run down the Parkway. Participants and spectators are asked to bring an unwrapped toy that will be donated to Toys for Tots in Sevier County.
"We'll get donation boxes set up at the resort before the race starts. There will also be Marines on hand collecting the toys for Toys for Tots and they will all go to local kids here in Sevier County," said Ryan Willis, Wilderness Spokesperson.
The biggest need is for toys for infants and girls ages 1-3. The other group is for boys and girls between 10-12 years old. Toys for Tots will give the toys away on December 15th.