Two Rogue Valley organizations that distribute toys to children at Christmas said Tuesday they were desperately short of meeting their goals. Local residents responded in a big way — a very big way.
Organizers for the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots reported a huge response to their pleas for help, a response that meant no children on their lists would find an empty stocking Christmas morning.
"The response from the whole community was just nothing short of amazing," said Monte Fraser, the local coordinator for Toys for Tots. "Toys for Tots just had its best year ever and it all came in in one day."
Fraser said the agency, will be able to distribute toys for as many as 5,000 children and that the enormous response from donors meant he would be able to help out other agencies that give out toys to kids. Prior to the publicity in the local media, he wan't sure they would make their scaled-back budget of helping 2,000 kids.
"Yesterday morning I was thinking there's no way we could do it," Fraser said, "and now we have enough to help out everyone."
Fraser said the outpouring included more than $12,000 in cash donations that materialized in a matter of four hours Tuesday. The biggest by far was a check for $10,000 from Keith Consolidated Industries in White City.
"We had a couple of other people go to Toys 'R' Us and come back with thousands of dollars in toys for us," he said.
Donors also came through to help the Salvation Army meet its goal of bringing Christmas to 1,827 needy Jackson County children.
When the organization checked its list of children in need of a gift and still saw some gaps on Monday, it extended the deadline for people to drop off donations until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In response, an outpouring of people came forward with donations of toys, gift cards and money to help ensure the organization had plenty of toys to make this year's Christmas wishes come true.
Donors also stepped up to stock the pantry for The Salvation Army's annual food drive. Those gifts will make sure families have holiday dinners, organizers said.
The Salvation Army was distributing Christmas food boxes and toys to registered families Wednesday and will finish today at the old Lithia Dodge Building, 315 Fifth St., Medford.
As he helped finish up the tally at Toys for Tots Wednesday evening, Fraser said most agencies are no longer taking names for toys. The exception is the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. Requests can be made by calling 864-8800.
"They said we could give out their phone number to the media if we had enough toys to meet the response," Fraser said. "And now we do."
Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.