Whidbey Toys for Tots donations fall far short this year

It’s been a tough year for donations to the Marine Corps League’s Toys for Tots program on Whidbey Island.

According to organizer Mike McClung, donations are down about 40 percent, the impact of which will be felt next year.

“Last year we spent about $13,000 on toys. This year we’ve spent about $12,500 but we haven’t been able to replenish our funds,” McClung told members of the Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League at its regular meeting last week in Oak Harbor. “We’re going to be OK this year, but it’s next year I’m worried about.”

McClung told the group a fundraiser last weekend at the ferry dock in Clinton — the group’s major Toys for Tots fundraiser — brought in just over $3,000, half of what the group earned last year. Decreased ferry traffic was cited as the main reason for the decline. McClung suggested the group put in for a second fundraiser weekend for next year, so that even if traffic was down, the group would have two chances to raise money instead of one.

Another factor that has hurt the effort is that the cost of toys has risen.

“Prices are up across the board,” McClung said. “The cost of toys has gone up from $2 to $5 each.”

But there are some bright spots as well. McClung said that although the quantity of donations is down, the quality of the items being donated is up. And there are two more fundraising opportunities — the holiday choir and band concerts coming up at Oak Harbor High School. The annual holiday choir concert will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19 and the holiday band concert will be held at the school at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. Members of the Marine Corps League and active duty Marines will be there to accept donations of toys and/or money.

All of the money and toys collected on Whidbey Island are distributed on Whidbey Island, according to McClung. They try to provide at least one new, quality toy for each child in need on the island. This year there are 1,800 children on the list, up about 300 from the previous year.

Toys for Tots collection boxes will remain at several participating businesses across the island through Saturday, Dec. 22.

Those wishing to send contributions can mail them to: Toys for Tots — Whidbey, MCL Detachment 1210, P.O. Box 977, Oak Harbor, WA  98277.

Call 360-320-3013 for more information.