Ever since Toys for Tots announced recently that it was in desperate need of toys this Christmas, people have been clamoring to help.
Problem was, would-be Santas were told to leave their benevolence at the door, so to speak.
Since writing Tuesday's column about traditional charitable giving being down this year, I've received plenty of emails from readers detailing the problems they've had trying to drop off toys. Either their designated drop-off points were closed, or they were told they were too late to drop off the toys.
Undoubtedly, the would-be Santa who expressed the most frustration was Brook J. Lenfest, the cable entreprenuer, charter school mogul and philanthropist. Lenfest said he tried most of last week to contact Toys for Tots to tell them he'd be willing to match every toy up to 5,000, but no one immediately called him back.
Lenfest says that when Toys for Tots coordinator SSgt. Marc J. Palos finally got back to him two days later, he thanked Lenfest for his generosity but told him he was too late.
"I'm sure (Palos) got a lot of responses, but you have to pick and choose between someone who wants to give a Rock Em Sock Em robot and someone who's offering a serious match with some serious dollars behind it," Lenfest said.
For his part, Palos told me he has been absolutely swamped, but in a good way. Since the need went public, folks have been donating toys from every part of the Philadelphia region. Palos and his staff of 20 have worked overtime to pick up the gifts at designated drop off points and distribute them, he said.
He added that if anyone wants to drop off a last-minute gift, they can do so at the main distribution center in Bristol on 2501 Ford Road. After today, any additional gifts will be stored for next year.
As for Lenfest, who also contacted Toys R Us but was told he was too late to set up a gift giveaway: "When you're trying to help and no matter what you do you can't, you can either get irritated about it or let it go....I guess I was irritated, but I've let it go."