Normally, says Major Butch Frost, the gym at the Salvation Army Crossroads facility in Independence would be filling up with toys about now.

Not this year.

Donations are down, and the group, which runs Eastern Jackson County’s only homeless shelter, is struggling during the Christmas season.

“And we are in dire need of toys,” Frost said Friday. The Salvation Army will hold a toy shop on Dec. 20, during which parents can come in and select gifts for their children. The group serves about 1,200 children, but Frost said as of Friday there were enough toys on hand for maybe 50.

Giving overall is down, including at the well-known red kettles at about 30 local stores. That’s part of a big push toward the group’s annual budget of $1.6 million, but he said fundraising is down $32,000 compared with last year.

“For some reason this year, it’s going slow,” he said.

The group is looking for toys for children through age 14. Those who want to give toys – or money to buy toys – can come by the Crossroads facility at 14700 Truman Road. That’s on the north side of Truman a few blocks east of Noland Road. Or call the Salvation Army at 816-252-3200.