If Toys for Tots can’t secure warehouse space soon, the United States Marine Corps Reserve program may not be coming to Volusia County this year, local coordinator Tarayn Korkus Nix said.
The nonprofit program distributed more than 20,000 toys last year to more than 6,000 children in Volusia County, and expects an even greater need this year.
“We expect an influx of families this year due to COVID-19,” Korkus Nix said. “But if we don’t find a warehouse soon, we won’t be able to have a campaign.”
For at least 20 years, Toys for Tots has operated in Volusia County in the holiday season, using donated warehouse space from Oct. 1 to Dec. 30 to collect, sort, organize and distribute the large amount of toys donated for families in need at Christmas.
But finding the space — ideally around 5,000 square feet, or at least 3,000 square feet — has proved nearly impossible this year, Korkus Nix said.
“I’m not sure why,” she said. “Some owners are looking to lease the space, so they don’t want anyone in there — others are worried about their insurance, even though we provide liability insurance.”
Korkus Nix has spent the past two months trying to secure the space, she said, and with only nine days remaining before the program is set to begin, the situation is dire.
“I’m desperate,” she said. “If we don’t find a warehouse, we won’t have a campaign, or we’ll be absorbed into another county, or it will just not be provided this year.”
Already, the program has been readjusting due to COVID-19. For example, volunteers have dropped down to about 10, Korkus Nix said, mostly her own family members. Instead of distributing from the warehouse site, coordinators have been working with eight local agencies on a plan to distribute the toys.
“We still need a warehouse to hold our toys, to serve as a drop location, to count everything and sort into boxes,” Korkus Nix said.
“I’m desperate,” she repeated. “If you know anyone or anywhere, please let me know.”
The program would prefer a spot in West Volusia — mostly because the volunteers all work 40-plus hours a week and live locally — but, at this point, will consider anywhere in the county.
“We provide a letter for a tax write-off,” Korkus Nix said, noting the warehouse space is considered a “gift in kind.”
If you or anyone you know is aware of an available warehouse — between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet — that would be able to donate the space for three months of the holiday season, please contact Volusia County Toys for Tots Coordinator Tarayn Korkus Nix at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386-227-7791 (alternative number: 386-747-4301).