Toy drive gets derailed

GLENDALE — Local firefighters say they’re struggling to fill orders for toy donations in the wake of Metrolink’s decision to cancel a main collection drive last week.

Because of rain, officials said logistics prevented the annual Metrolink Holiday Toy Express, where residents donate hundreds of unwrapped toys for needy families, from being rescheduled.

That took what little wind there was out of the sails for local fire departments, which depend on the brightly decorated train and musical performances to spur toy donations from the community for the “Spark of Love” campaign.

“It was a blow to us,” said Tanya Gregorian, the Glendale Fire Department’s public education coordinator.

Glendale firefighters usually collect about 400 toys at the event, which go to local nonprofits and schools for low-income children, she said. The loss of the event also came at a time when orders for toys have tripled, she added.

“We are four full boxes of toys short now,” she said.

Glendale firefighters can only hope they get enough donations to fulfill orders for 2,500 toys this year for local organizations, including New Horizons Family Center, which will host its annual toy giveaway Saturday.

Burbank firefighters are also struggling to make sure they can meet the demand from nonprofits like the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Family Agency of Burbank, Engineer John Freeborn said.

“It’s hard because we have so many great partnerships,” Freeborn said. “It’s hard to tell them that we don’t have the toys you wanted.”

In a final push for toy donations, Burbank firefighters recorded several public service announcements asking businesses and residents for help. The Metrolink event typically brought about 200 toys for “Spark of Love,” Freeborn said.

In the meantime, “we’re just kind of scrambling,” he said.


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