Marsha Thomas tries to do what she can.
But the grandmother of 14, great-grandmother of one, and great-aunt to another four great-nieces and great-nephews gets stretched thin trying to provide a bit of Christmas spirit to all of them.
So, to help with just her four youngest grandchildren and four great-nieces and great-nephews this year has meant asking for help from a trusted source.
Toys for Tots "has helped us a lot, definitely, especially during that time we weren't doing so well financially," she said.
That was back in 2005, when she first found out about the program from the Rev. Tammy Smith at her church "when things were harder then," said Mrs. Thomas, 61, of Wilkinsburg, who works in customer service for the IRS Downtown.
While Mrs. Thomas and her husband, William, 64, a records clerk at UPMC Presbyterian, are doing OK, they're reaching out to help the children of an adult son from a prior marriage, who is disabled because of a medical condition, and an adult niece, who is without a job. Both have children who would otherwise go without much at Christmas without Toys for Tots.
Her son and niece "have both had a tough time," Mrs. Thomas said. "But we want to help their kids."
Rev. Smith, a community activist who refers families to the Toys for Tots program from several area churches and the United Way, said the request from a grandparent or a great-aunt is increasingly common.
"Sometimes, a lot of parents, either through pride or embarrassment, won't reach out and the grandparents do it for them," Rev. Smith said.
Unfortunately, she said, "what I'm finding is that there are more grandparents trying to find help for their grandkids because their parents can't help."
Toys for Tots is organized locally by Pittsburgh Cares and the Marine Corps and funded by contributions to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Goodfellows Fund. Since 1947, the mission of Goodfellows has been to ensure that no child goes without a Christmas present.
The goal of the fund, which started in 1947, is to make sure that every child has a toy under the tree on Christmas morning. Your donations will support Toys for Tots in the distribution of thousands of toys to needy children this holiday season, and the Salvation Army's Treasures for Children program.
Please help. Make a tax-deductible donation to Goodfellows by using the coupon on this page, or online by visiting www.post-gazette.com/goodfellows. Every donation will be acknowledged in the newspaper.
It is not always easy to ask for help, Mrs. Thomas said, but that is easily overcome when she thinks about Christmas day.
"I just love to see the faces light up when they see the toys," she said. "It makes me feel blessed and thankful that those programs exist."
Today's total: $10,897
Grand total: $96,579.60
In honor of Gene & Diane Natali $2,000
Industrial Scientific Employees$1,000
Matt, Jennifer, Andrew Massucci$300
American Cable Association $250
VeeAnne Petitte $250
In memory of Stephanie Councelman $200
Carlton Kelly $200
In memory of Pappyman & Sandra Kleitz$200
Mr. & Mrs. Anthony DeArdo$125
In memory of Virginia Salamone from Larry Jr.$100
The Whyte family $100
Bill & Tina McAndrew $100
In memory of Marcello Stancati$100
In honor of Dick Muldawer $100
Bob & MJ McFarland $100
Carol McCullough $100
In honor of Dennis & Louise Veraldi $100
In memory of Gene Sartoris $100
Helen M. Shumaker $100
In memory of Gilbert & Elizabeth Gillen $100
Candy and Kent $100
Linda & Allan Andrew $100
A. Lee Shull Jr. $100
Vegh-Gaynor family $100
In memory of Donna Sabram $100
Tom & Fay Wright $100
Randy & Lisa King $100
Mary Zervos $100
Marjorie Rogers $100
In honor of Mackenzie and Adelaide Turkovich $100
Ed & Sharon Nolan $100
Mrs. W. R. Squier $100
The Beckers $100
In memory of R.J. Huggins $100
Sally Ford $100
Jacob & Jenna Macosko $100
Larry Blair $100
Natalie & William Gleeson $100
Wayne & Mary Beth Quinn $50
Della Albin $50
Bo Dickey $50
Kendall and Vanna $50
Beverly & Neil Townsend $50
Ginger & Bud Bauer $50
J. Johns $50
Gail Gratton $50
Dana & Cheryl Estep $50
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald J. Turzak $50
Frank & Mollie Santucci $50
Ian & Margaret Simpson $50
Peter and Tissy $50
Tom & Donna Zolkiewicz $50
In memory of Guadalupe Campos$50
Carol Robinson $50
Natalie and Jenna Mangene $50
The Forgione family $50
In memory of Edith Caruso $50
In memory of Elma H. Robson $50
Rose and Joey $50
Marion U. McCloskey $50
Hart family $40
In memory of my Omah, MaryAnn Cicuto $35
Thomas Harlee $35
Daniel Schcosky $35
In memory of Carl & Mary Robare from Pam & Gary Kach $30
Michael J. Pesacreta Jr. $30
Karen & Chuck Nelis $25
Terry Synan $25
Mr. & Mrs. Dale Lyles $25
Darlene Schiller $25
In memory of Doris Kissell $25
Dan & Nicole Walsh $25
Eric & Corinne Loepp $25
Dave & Marsha Ondo $25
Bob, Carol and Evan Neu $25
In memory of Dr. Anne Rose Jones$25
Loretta Proch $25
Mrs. Olabrice Wilkerson $25
Pat & Jerry Burgess $25
In memory of Agnes and Lee $25
Herta Brueckl $25
Art Short $25
John & Marian Costa $25
Carolyn Howard $25
Roy & Anna Betti $25
In memory of Renee-Pastirik $22
Mike Colsnik $20
Karl, Melanie and Miranda Doring$20
Evan & Blake Kuhn $20
In memory of Pap-Pap from Marty Stewart $20
In memory of Matthew W. Pustelak $20
P. Bianco $20
In memory of Tony Polito from Veronica Polito $15
Jarrett and Dylan Cohn $15
David Stirk $10
Louise Horvath $10
Ron Peters $10
Edith B. Naveh $10
Virginia Perry $10
Peggy Yeschke $10
Marie Pavlovich $10
Philomena Green $5
In memory of Adelaide Guzanick Zirkle $5holidays
Sean Hamill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2579. First Published December 18, 2012 5:30 AM