Charities Struggling to Grant Kids' Christmas Wishes Amid Supply Chain Squeeze

Supply chain issues are threatening to spoil the holidays as toy drives and other children's charities are struggling to find the toys and supplies for all the children on their list to receive their Christmas wishes, the Associated Press reported.

With just a few weeks until Christmas, organizations such as Toys for Tots, the Family Giving Tree, Operation Christmas Child and more are having difficulty finding enough toys, toiletries and other gifts for children in need around the world.

The COVID-related supply chain issues have limited the number of items in the U.S. as clogged ports, a lack of workers to move cargo, and rising shipping costs have led to empty store shelves and increased prices on many products.

President Joe Biden announced plans last month to establish around-the-clock operations at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation's largest port, to hopefully help the ships waiting to dock and a shortage of truck drivers to haul goods, and further stop rising inflation.

Jim Silver, CEO of Toys, Tots, Pets & More, a toy industry review website, said charities are bound to see fewer donations from manufacturers this holiday season because many containers are stuck at U.S. ports.

"There is going to be a shortage," he said. "Without a doubt."

The supply chain issues also why donations to charities such as The Toy Foundation have declined. According to Executive Director Pamela Mastrota, donations declined by nearly 80 percent in dollar value this year compared to 2019.

The California-based nonprofit Family Giving Tree said it has been extremely difficult to find toys, gaming consoles, laptops and other electronic items kids have asked for due to the global shortage of chips used in cars, phones and other devices. The organization usually grants wishes for 34,000 children and adults in the Bay Area but is worried this year might be cut short.

"I've never seen something like this. Our biggest fear is we're not going to get the quality of gifts that we want, or we're not going to have enough in general," said Kristyn Begari, the purchasing coordinator for Family Giving Tree.

Toys for Tots, the nation's most popular toy donation drive run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, is not expecting any shortages this year, according to David Cooper, the organization's vice president of operations. Cooper said the organization purchased about $16.5 million worth of toys this spring to avoid any supply chain issues.

Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief charity organization, is worried more about shipping delays than the supply chain shortage this season. The group's Operation Christmas Child project sends millions of shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts, toiletries, Christian materials and more to children in more than 100 countries, but due to the shortage of truckers, delivery equipment and other factors, the group is worried that the 9.7 million expected shoeboxes this year will be delayed.

"We have to be flexible. But our in-country teams, volunteers and logistical networks are strong. And we're confident that the program will be carried out at the same level of excellence in scope that it has been in the past," said David Thompson, the senior director of Operation Christmas Child.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Toy Shortage
Supply chain issues are threatening the holidays as toy drives and other children’s charities are struggling to find the toys and supplies for all the children on their list to receive their Christmas wishes. Above, a doll based on the Walt Disney Studios film "Mulan" is displayed in the toy section of a Target department store on April 30, 2020, in Glendale, California. Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Silver noted that small and mid-size manufacturers who largely produce toys in countries like China are feeling squeezed by the supply chain problems more than larger ones. However, the disruption is also being felt at MGA Entertainment, the American toy giant which makes Bratz! and ​​L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls.

Isaac Larian, the company's CEO, said they've only been able to meet 70 percent of the demand for items because the company is waiting for hundreds of containers full of toys to clear the California ports.

"These goods are not going to make it to Christmas," Larian said. And the toys that are in stores now cost 23 percent higher than they did last year, he noted. His advice for anyone looking to get a toy is simple: shop now.

Despite an earlier planning process, many gift requests for gaming systems and other items submitted to One Simple Wish have been out of stock, or are facing major shipping delays, said Daniella Gletow, the founder of the organization, which works with social service agencies across the country to facilitate holiday wishes anyone can grant for children in need.

"That's obviously holding up our ability to make sure that we're going to be able to fulfill all these needs in time for the holidays," Gletow said. "Because our goal is to get everything out by the week before Christmas."

To avoid further delays, she says the organization is encouraging donors to grant wishes earlier than they have in prior years.

There are concerns more families might register to receive toys from them this year due to higher costs. However, a Toys for Tots spokesperson said early indicators for their holiday collection efforts point in a positive direction.

Some of their donations in the past have gone towards The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, which also collects gifts for children and families in need during the holidays. The organization estimates about 5 million gifts are donated each year though the program. Though this year, Kenneth Hodder, Salvation Army's commissioner, said there are concerns many kids might not receive their gifts on time.

"We are encouraging everyone who has generously supported us in the past, and who would like to do so again this year, to shop early and to get those toys to us as quickly as they can," he said.