Last week in the Strip District, volunteers greeted a tractor-trailer-sized shipment of toys, chipped away at the massive piles inside and carted them away in boxes to be organized.
More than 30,000 children throughout Pittsburgh and in parts of Allegheny County will receive the gifts as part of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.
They did it, said one volunteer, for the kids.
"You want to do anything and everything you can," said Barb Simmons of the Scarehouse in Etna. "It's a wonderful thing to be a part of. Give a gift of yourself."
Men and women of the Marine Corps Military Police Company Bravo, based in North Versailles, distribute the gifts to local children in need during the holidays.
Ms. Simmons is among the hundreds of volunteers who have delivered and sorted toys at the donated space for the program, a warehouse at Guardian Storage Solutions in the Strip District.
The nonprofit Pittsburgh Cares has organized the volunteers since 2008. The shipment Friday came from Stuff-a-Bus, a promotion sponsored by 96.1 KISS-FM.
The radio station encouraged citizens and business to donate toys at a bus parked at Monroeville Mall. In all, they stuffed 42 buses, besting last year's 34.
"It's an incredible effort where the whole city is giving back to the community," Amanda Trocki, Pittsburgh Cares director of corporate programs, said of Toys for Tots. "It's really kind of cool to be able to see that. Whether they're giving their time or their toys, it's just such a huge season of giving."
More than 50 people, Marine reservists and employees of the radio station, Scarehouse, Shadyside investment consultants Greycourt and more volunteered at the warehouse.
A bonus: Scarehouse and Greycourt executives said the effort was also a good team-building activity for their employees.
Ms. Trocki said she expects that 200 to 300 volunteers will have pitched in by Christmas.
The toys will be picked up and distributed by nearly 150 charitable organizations, many of which also depend on volunteers. The Toys for Tots program also has scheduled two days -- Friday and Saturday -- when parents or guardians can pick up toys at the Strip District warehouse.
Since 1947, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Goodfellows Fund has sought to ensure that no child faces a Christmas morning without gifts under the tree. Since 1999, Goodfellows has teamed with the local Toys for Tots program to deliver Christmas cheer to underprivileged children.
A tradition of Goodfellows is that every donor is acknowledged in the pages of the Post-Gazette. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by using the coupon that appears with this story or online at www.post-gazette.com/goodfellows.
How to get toys
The Toys for Tots program will hold open houses this week to distribute toys to parents and guardians of needy children.
They will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Guardian Storage Solutions, 2839 Liberty Ave., Strip District.
Parents and guardians are required to bring photo ID for themselves, a birth certificate for each child (children up to age 12 are eligible) and proof of need: an EBT card, ACCESS card or SNAP card.
Those wishing to volunteer can visit www.pittsburghcares.org.
Today's total: $5,625.13
Grand total: $34,349.83
Frederick N. Frank, Esquire $1,000
Judith Batross $200
In honor of Brad & Ali Cameron $200
Carol & Timothy Parker $125
William & Natalie Gleeson $120
In memory of Fast Eddie $113
Raymond Schutzman $100
In honor of my granddaughters, MacKenzie & Addy, from Grandma Mary Ann $100
Family of Edward J. McGee $100
Gary & Bonnie Devlin $100
Sheila & Joel Justin in memory of our mothers, Selma and Tillie $100
Shadyside Inn Suites $100
Jim and Beth Webster $100
Anna May Sejka $100
Kathleen Sundin $100
In memory of Rob Finley $100
John & Nita Kellum $100
Pete Thomas $100
Thomas & Nancy Bour $100
Jim & Karen Sheppard $90
In memory of John Lundblad $75
The Norcik family & Otis $75
Gail Gratton $75
Michael & Janice Loccisano $50
Thomas and Marianne Cola, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year $50
Marge Tsudis $50
Carol Miles $50
Carl & Jona Hammer $50
George Svilar $50
Bruce Americus $50
Patrick C. Magee $50
Giannangeli family $50
Eli & Beverly Zorich $50
In memory of Benjamin Piper $50
Suzanne Broughton $50
Mrs. Jane Gilchrist $50
Marian Mignogna $50
Jennifer A. Bender $50
Dante Accamando $50
Fred Reed $40
Ms. Patricia G. Miller $40
Felix & Carolyn Natoli $35
Myrona & Ed Meindl $35
William Martz $35
Neu family $30
Carl and Jamie Straub $30
V.J. Ruisi $30
Wayne & Bonnie Chalovich $25
In memory of Agnes and Lisa $25
J. Barbara McKelway $25
Mildred Tornabene $25
In memory of Genevieve Fiedor $25
Mr. & Mrs. Rod Dady $25
Judy Lutz $25
In memory of Mary Fry, from Russell Fry and daughters Heather and Courtney $25
In memory of Lynne E. Faigen $25
Leonard & Frannie Colosimo $25
Frank Terry $25
In memory of William Stark $25
Katherine E. Phillips $25
Mark & Lisa Saftner $25
Mr. & Mrs. Paul B. Donatelli $25
Ann Ditoro $25
In memory of Sanjib K. Mukherjee $25
In honor of Tim Bronder and Rachael Cooper $20
Mr. & Mrs. Anthony F. Boccardi Jr. $20
Cheryl DeSimone $20
Daniel Brannan $20
Patrick C. Magee $20
In honor of Joseph Scarpino, Ron & Connie Malik, and Dan & Katie Andrasko $20
Maureen Hutton $20
Mary Ann Ferrans $15
Ruth B. Potts $15
Chris & Betty Stringert $15
In honor of Kaitlin and Samantha Burns - Merry Christmas - Mommy and Daddy love you $13.13
In memory of Stephen A. Stasenko Sr. $12
Ross Rosen $12
Pauline Balchus $10
Joanne McCarten $10
Mrs. Ann Conner $10
Ingeborg Hamovitz $10
Molly Born: email@example.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.