Santa Claus will make it to homes where children might not receive Christmas presents, thanks to the generosity of people who donated almost 100,000 playthings to Toys For Tots.
"They are coming in as fast as we can give them away," Sgt. Anthony Smalls, the Marine leading the charity drive this year, said yesterday.
"The warehouse is full. The motorpool is filled. Another tractor-trailer just came in," he added.
Two weeks ago, donations were way off -- 96 percent down from the same time last year -- and Smalls was telling organizations there would be fewer or no toys at all for them.
But by Thursday all of that had changed. There were requests for 93,000 toys, and each one was met, Smalls said.
And there are still more toys available.
"We are calling up all the service organizations and asking them if they can use even more toys than they had asked for," he said. "We've got toys everywhere."
Smalls said the last-minute rush is partly due to problems that the Marines encountered when they tried to get around to 100 pickup places with only three trucks. So they asked for help.
Smalls said about 60 people and organizations immediately volunteered.
Smalls said the majority of the collections were made by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, which took over pickups in Virginia, and Potomac Electric Power Co. employees who collected toys in Maryland and the District.
The campaign was supposed to end on Thursday, but Smalls said the Marines will be in business until every toy has found its way to a home where it is needed.
"I sure hope we get Christmas Day off," he said.