ODESSA, Fla. -- With days left to go in its annual toy drive, Messengers of Hope Mission's CEO is asking the community for help making holidays brighter for those in need.
"I don't know if it's economy, I don't know if it's shipping, but giving is way, way down," said CEO Bob Gardner.
Bags of toys cover the desk and floor in Gardner's office at the non-profit's headquarters, but he said that's nothing compared to last year.
"Last year, you couldn't get in this room," Gardner said. "It was basically floor-to-ceiling."
Gardner said he hopes an appeal to the public can boost donations ahead of the December 17 deadline. Messengers of Hope is asking for donations for kids as young as babies through age 18. Examples of items they're looking for include sneakers size 7-9 for girls and size 9-12 for boys, toys for any age, and even gift cards.
"The thing that we have the hardest time getting is things for teenagers, older teenagers. Used video game systems are great. First time ever, we got tool kits. That's an amazing idea for teenagers," Gardner said.
Gifts can be dropped off at Messengers of Hope's warehouse at 14426 Black Lake Rd. in Odessa from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. Monday-Friday. They'll be handed out on Sunday, December 19, off the corner of Ridge Rd. and Congress St. in Port Richey beginning at 3:00 p.m..
Gardner said distribution will be on a first come, first served basis, and any family in need is welcome to stop by.