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Volunteers rally to overcome critical toy shortage for Pittsburgh kids

Jennifer Reeher
December21/ 2014

Watching children’s eyes light up as they open presents on Christmas morning is one of the most heartwarming signs of holiday joy. For many families, donations through local nonprofits like Toys for Tots help to make this moment possible–but this year Pittsburgh is experiencing a toy shortage with fewer donations than previous years.

The Emergency Toy Drive, spearheaded by Most Wanted Fine Art’s Nina and Jason Sauer and Pittsburgh bloggers Jodi Hirsch, Sue Kerr, Jennifer England and Lindsay Patross, is working to fight this shortage.

With eight identified local nonprofits still needing donations (organizations that will reach approximately 1,470 kids), the Emergency Toy Drive has been taking donations throughout the weekend to assist with this demand. Through this drive, the people of Pittsburgh have truly stepped up to help fill the need. As of Saturday, December 20, over $9,200 has been donated along with hundreds of toys.

Want to join the cause? Donate time, money, toys or any combination of the three! The Facebook page is updated regularly with up-to-date volunteer information, identifying specific volunteer needs and locations that are most in need of assistance. Monetary donations, which will go to help fill the remaining gift donation needs, can be made here or by connecting directly with a 501c3 organization through IHeartPGH.com. Toy and gift donations can be dropped off at Most Wanted Fine Art (locations in the Waterfront and on Penn Avenue); at this point, gifts for older kids (around the 10-16 age range) are most needed. And everyone, regardless of free time or funds, can help raise awareness of this drive using the hashtag #PGHSavesXMAS on social media.

According to Lindsay Patross of IHeartPGH.com, the Emergency Toy Drive will be ongoing through the holiday. “The drive will continue through Christmas Eve, or even Christmas Day if there is need, until the needs of the nonprofits are met.” She is certain, however, that the drive will meet its goal thanks to the generosity of volunteers and donors, allowing the group to provide continued assistance. “We are going to meet our goal,” she says, “and any surplus funding will go to supporting these organizations in the future.” Though there will be a meeting after the holidays to determine exactly how any excess funding will be distributed, these partners are committed to continuing support for these Pittsburgh nonprofits.

In the meantime, though, the outpouring of assistance and generosity from Pittsburghers continues, ensuring a happy holiday season for many area families.

Updates and more information can be found at IHeartPGH.com.

Featured image: PGHSavesXMAS volunteers at the East Hill Residence Council, Photo courtesy of Lindsay Patross

Jennifer Reeher