The Marine Corps Reserve in the Bay area is having a Grinch like toy collection season. Major Ed Zaleski says toy donations are dramatically down. " We're probably down tens of thousands of toys from years in the past.", says Major Zaleski. The Marines have run into two major problems this year. The cancellation of the NHL Hockey season and budget cuts by the U.S. Postal Service.
In previous years, the Marines have been able to stand outside of Lightning games and collect new, unwrapped toys form hockey fans. This year, however, the NHL Season has been canceled through December and so the Toys for Tots program lost a major collection opportunity.
The other drop off of Toy Collections is having an even larger impact. For several years, the Toys for Tots program has benefited from U.S. Postal Service Letter Carriers who collect toys for the Marines. Homeowners are usually notified about the toy collection drive by a flier that goes out in the mail a week in advance. This year, the postal service told the Marines, they could not deliver the flier, due to budget cuts and so the letter carrier toy drive brought in a far fewer toys than in years past. Major Zaleski says, " The trucks were about half full. The public just wasn't aware that the day was going on. The public has been very generous and don't think they knew about it this year, so it was drastically different."
The head of the letter carriers union says it's not because postal service employees didn't want to participate. In fact, Union President Alan Peacock says the letter carriers look forward to the day, " A lot of em will even go out wearing a Santa hat that day. They get really involved in it. Peacock blames the problem on budget cutbacks by congress, " It all starts in Washington. Where is the problem at? It all starts right there, whether it's a local issue or what ever, it all starts right there. So that's where the Grinch is."
The bottom line for the Marines is, this year they will have far fewer toys to deliver. Major Zaleski says, " The Christmas just isn't going to be as big as it usually is from out perspective and that just hurts us. We want to make it the best Christmas every year."
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