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TODAY launches 14 annual holiday gift drive

Learn how we're helping needy children this season, and how you can too.
/ Source: TODAY

It's time to get ready for the holiday season! The TODAY show is kicking off its 14th Annual Holiday Toy and Gift Drive for needy families all over the United States.

The latest data show that 36 million Americans are living in poverty. Families are still displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Military families are still waiting for loved ones to return home. As a matter of fact, a greater portion of families and children live in poverty in America today than three decades ago. We need your help in making the holidays brighter for some of these deserving children.

We want YOU to help us put a smile on the faces of millions of children with our Holiday Toy Drive. Now underway, the effort continues a long tradition of reaching beyond Studio 1A and into the lives of families in underserved communities all over the United States.

Last holiday season, TODAY viewers, website visitors and corporate contributors teamed up to provide $26 million worth of toys, books, games, clothing, toiletries, electronics, musical instruments, CDs, videos, cosmetics and other suitable gifts to more than four million children via 203 organizations in all 50 states.

The "TODAY Show Toy Drive" is a project of the TODAY Show Charitable Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the extent the law allows.

In 1994, the "TODAY Show Toy Drive" became the first independent gift drive in morning show history. The unique program is designed to provide gifts for impoverished children and teenagers up to age 18 nationwide. This year's effort has already begun, with items being shipped early to communities who have dire need to house and clothe millions of children. It's now time to reach out to every viewer. Please help us during these trying times to give a gift to every child on our list. For many of them, we are the ONLY source of gifts for the holidays.

The toy drive is now a Rockefeller Center tradition. Surprise celebrities visit the crowd each morning to gather up their donations. Among those who came to help in past years have been George Clooney, Hillary Swank, Jim Carrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bonnie Hunt, Jack Black, Dermot Mulroney, Edie Falco, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Brown, Ashanti, Paula Abdul, Rick Springfield, Sting, LL Cool J, Chris Isaak, Harry Connick, Jr., Martin Sheen, Julie Andrews, Lynn Redgrave, NY Mets manager Willie Randolph, Robin Williams, NY Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Joe Torre, Henry Kissinger, Yogi Berra, Mister Rogers, Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Susan Lucci, Molly Shannon, Donald Trump, Jimmy Smits, Phylicia Rashad, LeAnn Rimes, NASCAR'S Kurt Busch and Jimmy Buffett.

On the air
Major donations from corporations will begin to appear on the show beginning November 19. Starting the Monday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), we're urging all the visitors to Rockefeller Plaza to join in the fun and bring a gift for a child up to age 18 and donate it live to a surprise guest, on camera every day until December 21. So if you're planning a trip to New York, be sure to pack a gift for a child in need.

If you can't make it to Rockefeller Center to donate, be sure to tune in for special announcements on how you can participate in your home town.

Donate online
And here are two ways you can contribute to the Today Show Holiday Gift Drive online:


The recipients
All donations, large and small, put some cheer into the holidays for a child who may otherwise not have received any gift at all. The items are often given to families who cannot afford to buy presents, so that the children can open a gift that's given to them by a loved one, not a charity. These items go to 210 organizations in all 50 states reaching millions of kids. Recipients include homeless shelters, children's group homes, schools, foster family services, domestic abuse shelters, Native American missions, military bases, hospitals, preschools, after school programs, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Contact us now!
We hope you join us in celebrating the season and helping children all over the United States for our 14th annual toy drive.

Let's all work together in making this year's toy drive the most successful ever.  It comes at a time of great need.