The Gazette online:

CEDAR RAPIDS - Given the flood and current economic conditions, organizers expect this year’s Toys for Tots program to be even more meaningful for local families in need.

“Finances are tighter for so many this year, those that were directly impacted by the flood and others struggling as a result of economic downturn,” said Mindy Kayser, director of development and communications for the Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids.

“We are planning for increased need. We know there are families in our community that have lost absolutely everything. This reality will be magnified for many of them during the holiday season.”

The Cedar Rapids Jaycees, the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots are collecting toys through Dec. 12 for children in need this Christmas. New, unwrapped toys may be brought to one of the many collection sites across the community, including Wal-Mart Stores in Cedar Rapids and Marion.

A national program run by the Marine Corps through the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation, Toys for Tots serves infants through age 17.

Last year, Salvation Army staff and volunteers collected and distributed more than 12,000 toys to needy children in Linn County.

Cash donations also are accepted. Make checks payable to the Toys for Tots Foundation, c/o the Salvation Army, 1000 C Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids. For more information on donating or volunteering, contact Kayser at (319) 364-9131.

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