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Hey Santa, this group needs some help

Action for Boston Community Development is struggling to fill a greater amount of calls for help from families in Boston and other communities in the Mystic Valley area.

Action for Boston Community Development staffers organize toys for this year's drive. Lee Hollenbeck/FayFoto

Social service agencies are seeing greater requests for help with the holidays as lower-income families struggling to meet basic household needs amid the pandemic have nothing to spare for gifts.

And at least one organization is putting a call out to supporters as requests for help pour in, but the donations to their annual toy drive are slow.

Action for Boston Community Development has been holding a holiday toy drive for its clients and Greater Boston’s lower-income families for 50 years.

This year, they are struggling to fill a greater amount of calls for help from disadvantaged families in Boston and other communities in the Mystic Valley area, as requests pour in at an unprecedented rate.

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At the same time, the amount of donations coming in is also “way behind,” ABCD staff says.

Josh Young, director of field operations for ABCD, says the lasting effects of the pandemic are taking a toll on the lower-income families they serve. Many have endured job losses and are struggling to pay the higher costs of food, fuel, and other necessities.

“We accumulate toys during the holiday season, no matter what holiday they celebrate, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Three Kings Day,” he said.

ABCD generally distributes more than 6,000 toys to children in need. 

“Currently, we have 800 toys today,” Young said on Wednesday. “We’re optimistic that we’ll do OK.”

But to help reach that goal, ABCD is asking for donations of new, unwrapped toys, books, winter clothing (hats, coats, scarves, and mittens), and gift cards for children from birth to 12 years old.

Young said the age group that typically sees the smallest amount of donations is newborn to age 2 and 10-12 year-olds.

“Those are usually the hardest for us to collect toys,” he said. Donors know what toys and games a child in the 3-8 year age range would like, but are often stumped by what to get the youngest or oldest kids, he added.

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“Arts and crafts and sports equipment is always good,” Young said. “That’s what we usually recommend for the 10-12 age.”

Donations can be dropped off at the ABCD Dorchester Neighborhood Service Center, 110 Claybourne St., Dorchester by Dec. 15. Or, donors can fill out a form at bostonabcd.org/toy-drive and a staff member will be in contact to coordinate a drop-off.

Monetary donations can be made by visiting bostonabcd.org/donate, calling the ABCD Give Line at 617-348-6559, or emailing [email protected].

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