MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the season of giving, but several Twin Cities organizations say they are way behind in toy donations. The Salvation Army says it needs 17,000 toys, but right now they are about 4,000 short.

And they’re not alone.

Twice a month, Karima visits PRISM in Golden Valley to get food, and closer to Christmas, to get toys for her kids.

“Some days, waking up and not knowing where your next meal is going to come from or what’s going to happen during that day,” Karima Abdul-Malik said. “I’m a single mom so not working at the time, it helps out a lot. With kids being happy for the holidays getting some of what they asked for.”

PRISM sees a 5% to 10% increase in toy requests from year to year, but donations aren’t keeping up with demand.

That’s been a common theme at social service groups across the Twin Cities — demand up, donations down. Until this year, about 50% of PRISM’s toy donations came from Toys for Tots, but last week that partnership ended.

“They say they are overwhelmed. They have a lot of need going on right now,” Michelle Ness, executive director at PRISM, said.

To make up for the loss, PRISM is holding an emergency toy drive on Thursday. Their goal is to fill a van twice over with toys. They’re also looking for sports jerseys, hats, headphones and make-up for teenagers.

“If we can get a thousand toys to have available for distribution, we will be happy as clams,” Ness said. “As other organizations stop doing toy distributions or have less available, they look to other resources such as us to maintain it.”

Right now there are about 600 children in need signed up for PRISM’s holiday toy shop. There’s a good chance that number will grow. Now they need donations to grow with it.

“It’s a blessing to me. It’s a real blessing,” Abdul-Malik said.

The emergency toy drive will take place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. If you would like to make a monetary donation online, donors will match up to $2,000. PRISM has also set up an Amazon wish list for kids.

John Lauritsen

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