Local charitable organzations have struggled to keep up with assistance requests as donations have been down. Still, some surprising donations have
Local charitable organzations have struggled to keep up with assistance requests as donations have been down. Still, some surprising donations have arrived, such as this skid of toilet paper. (Submitted photo)

From toys to toilet paper, local organizations found themselves struggling to keep up with their communities' needs this holiday season while donations were down.

The Toys for Tots Program of the Marine Corps League ran out of Christmas toys by the second weekend in December.

"We've never had that happen before, and that was fairly early," said Dave Brady, chairman of the York Local Community Organization for the Toys for Tots program.

Locally, the program distributed 23,000 toys to 18,000 children. The goal was to give each child 21/2 toys. However, donations were down 13 percent, while toy requests were up 13 percent, Brady said.

"I'd say it was the state of the economy that resulted in more (families) asking for toys and public donations going down," he said.

To make sure each of the children received at least one toy, the program used toys donated from the public and provided by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Brady said.

The York Toys for Tots program also purchased toys at local stores, he said.

The program had to turn away two local agencies that requested Christmas toys after the already-collected play items were committed to the original 18,000 children, Brady said.

Families had started picking up toys right after Thanksgiving, he said.

Timely donation: When donations began pouring into New Hope Ministries this month, the organization received everything but toilet paper, said executive director Eric Saunders.

Then the organization received a pallet of donated toilet paper, he said.

"I had to laugh," Saunders said. "A month ago we were stressed and worried because our shelves were bare. We didn't have enough food to help the families. But donations come in and now our warehouse is full."

New Hope Ministries, which has offices in Dillsburg, Dover, Hanover and Mechanicsburg, is a social service agency that assists people in need. The organization relies on public donations.

This year, New Hope experienced a 20 percent cut in the state food purchase program. The agency uses program funds to buy food to fill its warehouse, Saunders said.

"And we had a 40 percent increase of people coming in for food services and support," he said. "We were feeling stretched in food supply. We were having to purchase food out of our pockets."

However, the organization began to see a spike in donations in late October. He said giving tends to increase as the holiday season approaches.

"We're still worried about the state of the economy and how it will affect us next year, but for ... Christmastime (we're) being thankful for how generous people have been and how much God has provided."

Helping Hand needs help: Cynthia Kemp, executive director for York's Helping Hand for the Homeless, said her nonprofit's donations are down about 25 percent this holiday season.

And it's likely because of two related factors, she said. People are struggling financially and so can't donate as much as before. And because they are struggling financially, more people need Helping Hand's services.

Monetary donations are most needed, Kemp said.

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.