Some shoppers at an Athens mall this weekend were shocked to find a store front with dozens of boxes full of toys meant for needy children for Christmas.
Lyn Elliot from Social Circle was at Georgia Square Mall with her sister when they noticed black plastic covering the windows had fallen revealing the boxes inside.
“I was just kind of in disbelief. It was heartbreaking to see just boxes of toys that were not delivered because I know there’s so many needy children,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
Toys for Tots Athens collects donated toys not just for the Athens-Clarke County area but also Oconee, Madison, Greene, and Ogelthorpe Counties. It was using the storefront in the mall as a storage space this holiday season.
A plea in a local newspaper dated Dec. 12 even asks for additional toys saying donations were running low.
“One of my feelings was, ‘Was it just a scam? Were they not going to deliver them?’,” says Elliot.
But Toys for Tots Coordinator Michael Seibert says rest assured they will not go to waste.
“Most of our donations don’t come into our warehouse until the second half of December; whereas, we have to do distributions to other community groups and other counties prior to that date,” he says.
Seibert says all the toys will be held over for next Christmas and moved to a different storage space in the meantime.
He says this season’s drive successfully provided toys to 500 children, representing 250 families in the Athens area.
Elliot, who says she has lost sleep after seeing what appeared to be abandoned boxes of toys, was happy to hear the explanation.
“I hope that that is true, and I hope the kids do get them next year. But I also want the public to keep giving. I don’t want this to stop just because of this incident,” she says.