Bakersfield Toys for Tots short thousands of toys days ahead of deadline

FILE - A teddy bear donated to Toys for Tots in Bakersfield. (KBAK/KBFX)

Update: SBBCollege Bakersfield announced Wednesday that they will serve as an additional drop off location for people to donate toys to Bakersfield's Toys for Tots.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A last-minute donation of 5,000 toys from Hasbro made its way from Lake Isabella to Bakersfield Monday afternoon. The Toys for Tots Kern River Valley chapter has been sharing their toy donations with Bakersfield, where toys are in short supply.

"Technically there is no Bakersfield Toys for Tots because there is no campaign,” Yvonne Pickerell, the head coordinator of the Kern River Valley Toys for Tots, said.

After the Bakersfield lead coordinator from years past turned down the role this year, it was too late to apply for official chapter recognition.

"There’s no Bakersfield campaign. They don't have a website," Pickerell said.

With only four days left to collect toys before they distribute them on Saturday, Bakersfield's Toys for Tots is at risk of coming up short.

"When we came to volunteer and heard that they were over 10,000 toys short this year, it broke my heart to think that there may be kids this year that won't be receiving toys," Keri Kehoe, Ms. Kern County, who volunteers for Toys for Tots yearly, said.

Darlene Doughty, with help from Pickering, stepped up to organize Bakersfield's toy collection and volunteer teams.

"We normally have several toy-sorting days. We've had one because we were so low on toys. And so now the toys are starting to come in, but our deadline, you know, is coming really fast," Doughty said.

And with Toys R Us, a major donor and collector, closed for good, donations have been down, and next year the problem will be even worse. The toy retailer was able to donate roughly $20,000 worth of toys collected in 2017 before shuttering. But those toys won't be around next year.

"The biggest problem's going to be next year because there will not be that donation coming from Toys R Us," Pickerell said. "Next year is going to be the challenge year."


NEW: SBBCollege Bakersfield located at 5300 California Avenue. Hours: Mon-Thurs 8 am – 7 pm, Fri 8 am – 5 pm

Dec 12 – Black Angus Toy Drive, 5–8 pm. Bring a toy and get a coupon for $15 off in December.

Dec 15 – Toy Distribution Day, Christ Cathedral Church 2301 White Lane, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until the toys run out.

Or donate online here.

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