The article on SF-Gate: Recession increases holiday toy shortage
Luis Osorio was very good this year.
The 6-year-old San Francisco boy was nice to his little sister, never complained when his family lived in a van for seven months, and even learned to write - a valuable skill at this time of year.
"I love you Santa because you are good and I like you," Luis wrote, in a note that hangs on the Christmas tree in his family's South of Market neighborhood apartment.
"I've been a good boy. Can you bring me a toy and cars? Baby Stephanie wants a doll. From Luis."
The wishes of Luis and thousands of other children around the Bay Area, though, are in jeopardy because of a severe shortage of toys collected by charities for the poor.
The recession, apparently, has struck the North Pole.
"A lot of people who donated last year are now in lines to receive help," said Sally Casazza, chair of the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program, the largest toy drive in the city and, at 60 years, one of the oldest. "This is our worst year ever."
Donations to the firefighters' toy drive are down 60 percent from last year. In the East Bay, the Mayor's Holiday Toy Drive in Oakland has seen donations plummet by half.
"It's been a rough season," said Paul Rose, spokesman for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. "It's the economy. We've been doing this for 30 years, and this has been our greatest year of need."
In San Francisco, demand over last year is up almost 20 percent, from 270 to 319 families a day receiving toys. Of particular need are gifts for girls between ages 9 and 12: lip gloss, hair barrettes, backpacks, bubble bath.