Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are closing, leaving the Toys for Tots charity in a tough spot. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are closing, leaving the Toys for Tots charity in a tough spot. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Toys for Tots charity will need to adjust without Toys R Us

The supportive national retailer is closing for good as Toys for Tots plans to expand locally.

LYNNWOOD — It was more crowded than any Black Friday sale Mary Butler has seen.

“There were lines around the building. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

Butler, the local coordinating officer for Toys for Tots Snohomish County, went to the Lynnwood Toys R Us location Saturday. It was the second day of closing sales at the company’s 735 U.S. stores. Volunteers from Toys for Tots were there to collect donations from customers and to thank the company for years of support.

The closing of Toys R Us and Babies R Us is a blow to Toys for Tots, Butler said. A charitable arm of the U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Reserve, it provides toys to families around the holidays. Toys R Us has long been a place where donations were collected. The company would provide toys and annual grants.

“They have been a constant with us,” Butler said. “It has just been a godsend.”

Volunteers are working on plans to close the anticipated gap in donations, she said. She’s reaching out to major toy sellers, including online retail outlets such as Amazon. She’s also looking for people who are interested in hosting a collection event or contributing in other ways.

The generosity of customers at Toys R Us over the weekend will go a long way in helping the 2018 donation campaign, Butler said. She still has to do a final count, but estimates that more than 2,500 items were given by shoppers.

“Just boxes and bags full of stuff,” she said. “People were so generous.”

It’s unclear when the closing sales will end for Toys R Us and Babies R Us. Toys for Tots left donation boxes at the store on Alderwood Mall Boulevard so customers can continue to give.

This year, Toys for Tots Snohomish County also is expanding the area it serves, Butler said. The organization currently provides for families from Shoreline on the south, Smokey Point on the north, Monroe on the east and Everett on the west. This winter, they’ll also give toys to families farther north and east, including Darrington, Butler said.

“It just makes sense,” she said. “There were families in those outlying areas that needed our support.”

Last year, more than 50,000 local children received gifts from Toys for Tots, she said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To learn more about Toys for Tots Snohomish County, or to get involved with a donation drive, go to toysfortots.org or email butlerm39@yahoo.com.

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