GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Toys For Tots have been piling up at WZZM13 and other donation locations.
Now it's time to get everything sorted, packed and distributed in time for Christmas.
"We are usually at our Grand Rapids warehouse about 20 hours a week sorting and boxing up toys and getting them ready to go," says Toys For Tots site coordinator Mindy Pierman. "All toys are sorted by age and gender, counted, packed and taken to distribution sites."
Volunteers do all of the work. Some come back year after year.
"Just felt like doing it," explains volunteer Benjamin Karczewski. "It's the Christmas season."
Toys for Tots coordinator Bill O'Connor says he has been volunteering for over 30 years.
"When I wake up Christmas morning I know we have made a difference," he says. "Because of these volunteers there are children out there opening Christmas presents. It's a cool feeling."
O'Connor says the number of families requesting assistance this year is up 20% to 30%.
"We've seen a huge increase in need," he says. "I think last year we served almost 10,000 children. This year we expect almost 12,000 to 13,000."
Parents selected Toys For Tots gifts for their children at the Rockford distribution center last week.
The remaining 3 centers in Kent County are inviting parents to make their selections on Saturday.
"I do this for the parents," says coordinator Pierman. "As much as you want every child to have a toy, I can't think of anything worse than being a parent and not able to give your child a toy at Christmas. You want to make both of them happy at the holidays."