BRADENTON, Fla. - There's a lot of work happening at the Salvation Army in Manatee County to make Christmas wishes come true for 1,800 children.
But in a room that should be filled with toys and gifts, there's rows and rows of empty boxes lining tables and the floor.
Social Service Program Coordinator Ebony Lewis says her organization is running low on presents for children 6 to 12 years old. 250 boxes remain empty in those ages.
"Every child deserves something, every parent deserves to give their child something. It’s pretty hurtful not being able to sleep, trying to figure out where the donations will come from," said Lewis.
Lewis works day and night to spread the word.
"I've been reaching out, e-mailing, doing blasts outs and mails out, trying to get individuals come through," she said.
With toy distribution less than two weeks away, the Salvation Army says, at this point, don’t bother with an Angel Tree tag. Anyone who is able is asked to buy toys and drop them off at the distribution center as soon as possible.
"We really don’t want them to wake up on Christmas morning and have nothing much under the tree," said Kelly French.
The gifts don't need to be elaborate. They just need to be enough to make every child feel loved on Christmas day.
"Glitter everything and unicorns and things they can put together for their rooms, even for the young boys with roller skates, art supplies, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls," said Lewis. "They're not asking for the world, but once they open up that gift, it feels like it is the world. That’s what we want to provide for these children this year."
Gifts should be dropped by off by Thursday, Dec. 12. The Salvation Army Distribution Center, at 5328 24th St. E in Bradenton, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.