Area nonprofits see surge in the need for toy donations

The Salvation Army’s Glendale Corps expected to serve 500 families on Thursday during its annual event in which parents had the opportunity to shop for their children’s Christmas toys.

Over the past six weeks, the Salvation Army has collected toy donations for boys, girls and teens from local businesses, churches, donors or nonprofits.

But Jessica Sneed, co-leader of the local Salvation Army, found a 150% increase in applications this year compared to last year from families looking for extra help with toy donations during the holidays.

“We know we’re not completely filling the need in Glendale,” she said, although she said no one was turned away.

The Salvation Army also partnered with the Glendale Unified School District this season to provide toys for students who are homeless or in foster care.

As mothers and fathers shopped for their children on Thursday in the Salvation Army’s gymnasium, nearly 30 volunteers from Nickelodeon assisted them by packing their toys in large bags.

Actor Nathan Kress, who starred in Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” television show, guided a mother to various tables filled with toys as she chose gifts for her four children. He also offered advice on which Star Wars toys to choose.

“Getting to [shop] for other people is really fun,” he said.

The Burbank Temporary Aid Center has also experienced an increase in families seeking assistance this year. As of Thursday, the nonprofit had served more than 250 families and more than 1,000 kids during the holiday season.

Barbara Howell, chief executive of the center, said the organization served 100 more families this year compared to last year.

In all, the organization provided gifts to 120 more teenagers than last year, but Howell said it needed more for teens, including gift cards, cosmetics, sporting equipment or backpacks.

The center planned to provide families with gifts through Christmas Eve, with any leftover gifts saved for next year.

“We’re hoping we’ll get through OK. If I have to run out and do a little shopping myself, that’s what you do,” she said.

Even so, Howell is grateful for the community donors who have come through.

“I feel sometimes like I’m a broken record…‘Can you help? Can you help?’ But whenever I ask, people respond, and that means the world to me,” she said.

Howell said the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, which provides basic services for the poor, working poor and homeless, serves 10% of Burbank’s population during the course of a year.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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