The Skagit Valley Herald Christmas Fund is in need of donations to meet a greater demand for toys in a year rocked by COVID-19.

Fund Administrator Lynn Postler said just two weeks after registration opened, her team has nearly as many children signed up as it did in 2020.

Challenges have mounted for the Christmas Fund, with the cancellation of a regular donation from Toys for Tots that usually covers a large share of the toy needs.

“We’ve probably spent $25,000 on toys so far,” Postler said.

In a normal year, she might spend $2,000 on toys to supplement the Toys for Tots deliveries. Doing so has allowed other donated funds to go toward items such as gift cards for holiday meals.

The Christmas Fund team also started shopping earlier this year to avoid running into issues relating to global disruptions of the supply chain.

Postler said the Christmas Fund will take all donations of cash and toys, though gifts for children ages 11 and up are traditionally in shorter supply.

This year, the annual Christmas Fund switched to focus on online registration rather than phone registration. This allowed Postler to go to a more distanced, COVID-safe set-up.

In a year defined by COVID-19, stress, illness and depression are especially pronounced in the community, she said.

“I think (the Christmas Fund) is more important than ever,” Postler said. “COVID has made everything worse.”

She said families are struggling this year, as demonstrated by the number of people asking for help.

“People started calling and emailing in October,” Postler said. “It was already in their minds that they’d need help this year.”

Ensuring that all children have something under the tree this year is more important than ever, she said.

The Christmas Fund is in its 72nd year.

Those interested in making a donation can learn more at goskagit.com/xmasfund, or by calling 360-419-7261.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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