'We are in dire need': Peninsula firefighters Christmas toy drive donations down 75%

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- Members of the Central County Fire Department which includes Burlingame, Hillsborough and Millbrae, need your help to make the holidays a bit brighter for kids and their families.

On Sunday, firefighters purchased toys at Nuts For Candy store for their annual toy drive. Donations are down 75% this year due to the pandemic. Capitan Herman Barahona says using funds from donors and their union at the shop is a way to give back to the community and support a business that has supported their efforts for many years.

"Nuts for Candy has been very supportive of our toy drive," says Capitan Barahona who urges people who can afford it, to give what they can.

"This year has been unique because a lot of people who don't normally reach out have been reaching out to us so it hits home for a lot of people," Capitan Barahona said, "If you can donate please do and do what you can and end this year on a positive note."

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From Salvation Army to local fire stations, collecting toys for kids this holiday season has become difficult amid the coronavirus pandemic. To make up for the lack of donations given so far, groups are finding ways for you to contribute online.

Oakland Parks Recreation and Youth Development Central West Unit is also in dire need of donations themselves. They were so short of toys, their drive-through event had to be invitation-only.

Karen Chung, a recreation leader with OPRYD's Franklin Recreation Center says the toy drive was started by an Oakland Police officer named Stanley Mock in 2006. After he passed away in 2007 she's been carrying on the tradition. This year in addition to a shortage of donations she's been trying to reach out to families in need since many do not speak English and aren't able to reach out for assistance.

"Over the years I've been buying the gifts out of my own pocket. Even when I was 16, I wasn't working yet so I would use my birthday and Christmas money to buy the gifts for the kids" says Chung.

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Both organizations will be collecting toys right up until Christmas.

Donations to the Oakland Parks Recreation and Youth Development Central West Unit's efforts can be made here: https://www.oaklandparks.org/franklin-recreation-center/

The Central County Fire Department is asking donations be made either directly to stations in Burlingame, Millbrae or Hillsborough or by calling 650-558-7600.

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