LAKELAND, Fla. -- After Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, hundreds of new students from the island have started school in Polk County. Many of them came here with nothing.
Toys for Tots needs volunteers and donations to help make sure they get the Christmas every kid deserves.
Volunteers loaded up carts and packed bags full of every toy you can imagine Thursday at a donated warehouse in Auburndale. They’re hoping to make spirits brighter for more than 9,000 kids this holiday season.
“The pressure's on. The deadline's on,” David Waller, a volunteer with the organization, said. “We can't stop the calendar before Christmas.”
This year, Toys for Tots is getting even more applications than usual.
“A couple weeks ago, we were getting a few at a time,” Waller explained. “Now, I'm getting boxes that are coming in.”
Waller doesn't know exactly how many applications they'll get from newly relocated Puerto Ricans. He just knows they need every donation possible and about twice as many volunteers as they have.
Volunteers work to work for nothing but the reaction on Christmas morning they may never get to see, but they say it’s worth it.
“To just give them a teddy bear to hug is going to mean a lot to them, I think,” Dorothy Dunlap said, as she packed a cart with toys.
You can make donations to Toys for Tots at Publix stores across the Bay area. However, what they need most this time of year is volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer in Polk County, you can call Dorothy Dunlap at 863-838-3060.
►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10News app now.