The 2014 Toys for Tots giveaway. Photo: Berkeley Police Association

Berkeley first responders have launched the 2017 Toys for Tots holiday gift program, and are asking for the community’s help to pull it off.

“This year our toy supplier is facing a critical shortage but we still wish to meet the needs of over 350 families who depend on us every holiday season,” police wrote on the GoFundMe page where financial donations are being accepted. All money raised will be used exclusively for the holiday toy campaign, police said. As of late Monday afternoon, just $170 of the more than $6,500 goal had been raised.

The Berkeley police and fire departments, in partnership with the Berkeley Police Officers Association and the U.S. Marine Corp Foundation, give 3,000 toys each year to local families in need of a little extra help around the holidays.

The goal of the program, police said in a statement Friday, “is to deliver a message of hope to youngsters whose families are in need and to support each of them in becoming responsible, productive community members and future leaders.”

Berkeley families can register to take part in the program through Wednesday, Dec. 13. Registration details and eligibility requirements have been posted online, and appear at the bottom of this story. Toys will be given out Saturday at the Ronald T. Tsukamoto Public Safety Building from 8-11 a.m.

Those who would like to donate toys may drop off new, unwrapped ones at any Berkeley fire station, the Ronald Tsukamoto Public Safety Building (2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way) or the Modern Combatives Gym (1450 San Pablo Ave.).

Registration details

Toys for Tots is open to all city of Berkeley families who pre-register by calling 2-1-1. The deadline to register is 5 p.m. Wednesday. Applicants must verify Berkeley residency with a utility bill that includes name and address; have photo identification; have the code number assigned during registration; and personally show up for toy distribution (substitutions are not accepted).

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...