Toys for Tots, the United States Marine Corps Reserve program that distributes toys to thousands of children in Volusia County every year for Christmas, is in need of warehouse space again this year.
The program needs a space with electricity of at least 3,000 square feet (and ideally up to 5,000 square feet) to collect, sort, organize, and distribute tens of thousands of toys.
Without a location, Toys for Tots would not be able to operate this year, and could be in danger of being absorbed by another county.
Last year, after The Beacon published a news story about the program’s need, local coordinator Tarayn Korkus Nix was able to secure the desperately needed facility, she said.
But this year, the warehouse is no longer available, and the same issues with securing a site — owners reluctant to give up vacant space that may be up for sale or lease — are cropping up again.
“It’s a minimal amount of time — from Oct. 1 through the end of December,” Korkus Nix said. “And we provide a hefty tax write-off.”
The donated warehouse space is considered a “gift in kind,” she noted. The owner would be reimbursed for what the rented space is worth. Additionally, the foundation provides their own liability insurance, and requires any visitors to sign off on a waiver.
COVID-19 has increased the need, Korkus Nix said. In 2020, the organization distributed more than 35,000 toys to some 8,900 children in the county. That is a more than 50-percent increase from 2019, when 6,000 children received 20,000 toys. The organization is expecting similar numbers for this year.
The pandemic also caused the organization to alter their distribution tactics — instead of distributing directly from the warehouse, Toys for Tots coordinates with local agencies in the effort.
“It worked out really well,” Korkus Nix said.
Many of the agencies are already familiar with the families, she said, and were able to select toys based on individual preferences, rather than just by age range and gender.
“Christy may not want dolls — Christy may want a basketball,” Korkus Nix said. “But we wouldn’t know that.”
The program would prefer a spot in West Volusia — mostly because the volunteers all work 40-plus hours a week and live locally — but will consider anywhere in the county.
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).