Last updated: February 19. 2013 9:53PM - 725 Views

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WILKES-BARRE – Catholic Social Services volunteer Diane Colleran has received generous donations for the 1,500 children the organization will help this Christmas.

But, Colleran said, while she received numerous donations for young children and toddlers, she is still in need of donations for older children, ranging from 6 to 11 years of age.

Normally, this place is packed, Colleran said of the basement of Our Lady of Hope Church on Park Avenue in Wilkes-Barre. But, we're at a shortage. Donations are low.

Tables that line the basement covered in toys still aren't enough for the 1,500 children who will collect their Christmas goodies on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

People are doing what they can, Colleran said. With the economy, unemployment and (Hurricane) Sandy, I understand. People have their own families to worry about.

Normally, there are crates of coloring books, Colleran said, while pointing to a single small plastic container, and gifts are so plentiful there is only a center aisle to walk down.

The Rev. John Terry of Our Lady of Hope Church allows Catholic Social Services to use the space for the toy drive, while a number of other businesses and organizations, including Toys for Tots, as well as local residents assist in toy donations.

More (families) signed up this year (than last year), Colleran said.

She said families sign up sometime around Thanksgiving, and then on the day of donations, those who signed up are allowed two toys per child, as well as a stocking stuffer, a hat, gloves and one coat per family.

But with the way things are going, we're going to have to use some of the hats and gloves as gifts themselves, not extras, Colleran said.

Sgt. Brandon Kropf, of the Wyoming-based U.S. Marine Corps, said the Toys for Tots program also is having trouble providing gifts for older kids.

When people think Toys for Tots, they only think about the small kids – the tots – and then we get a shortage for older kids. We want to make sure everyone gets something, Kropf said.

He said the shortage for the local Toys for Tots program is about the same as last year, and echoed Colleran's observation that community support has been amazing.

We want to thank everyone for what they've done, Kropf said, noting donations will certainly help those families in need this holiday season. We can't have toys for younger kids and nothing for older kids.

Want to help?

• Donations for the Catholic Social Services toy drive can be made by calling Diane Colleran at 570-406-9843 to arrange drop-off, or by visiting Our Lady of Hope Church in Wilkes-Barre between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donations will be accepted until Monday.

• For Toys for Tots, donations can be made by visiting www.toysfortots.org or by placing toys at any drop-off location.

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