NewsPinellas County


Toys for Tots registry confusion may leave some needy families empty-handed

Posted at 10:54 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 06:00:55-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Toys for Tots has a long history of providing Christmas joy to children in need, but application confusion may leave some empty-handed this year. 

Volunteers for Toys for Tots Pinellas County are working day and night to make sure several thousand families receive a few presents this holiday season. 

About 7,000 kids are signed up for the charity's distribution day on Friday. 

But many may still miss out. Volunteer coordinator Ed Zaleski showed ABC Action News more than 1,500 registrations that contained mistakes or were not completed. 

"A lot of people confuse getting a screen to check your work with being completely registered without hitting submit," said Zaleski. 

Parents are sounding off on the group's Facebook page, posting more than 80 comments this week expressing frustration over the registration process. And it appears the Toys for Tots Pinellas County Facebook page was removed Tuesday night. 

With just three days until distribution day, many of those parents are simply out of luck. 

"So I'm stuck without anything to give to my kids now, so it's devastating," said Heather Wood. 

Local non-profit desperately needs help due to Christmas toy shortage

Wood is a mother of two who recently enrolled to be a full-time student. She's counted on Toys for Tots in the past with no issues. But now she's scrambling with just days before the holiday after finding out she failed to properly submit her application. 

"I full on cried because I didn't even expect that to happen," said Wood. "I really hadn't looked at any other option, they tell you that you can't apply for more than one service so I just rely on Toys for Tots."

Zaleski tells ABC Action News, families who did not receive a bar code after submitting a successful application can still show up to Friday's toy distribution, but chances are slim they will have extra. 

"I'm on a mission to do something for my kids and I'll do whatever it takes, if they say that there's a chance that I could get something, I'll be there," said Wood. 

For families still in need, registration is still open for Metropolitan Ministries toy distribution in Tampa and Pasco County. You must register at Metropolitan Ministries Outreach and Prevention Center, 2301 N. Tampa Street, Tampa, now – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.