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      Grand Strand charities say holiday donations low

      Before the United States fell upon tough economic times, the holidays marked the time of year charities normally swarmed with donations. However, some scrooges have non profits on edge this holiday.

      Some charities say when it comes to donations, this is the worst year they've seen.

      "As of this point last year, {the} Monday after Thanksgiving, last year we had almost 20,000 toys collected. This year we almost have 2,000 toys collected locally," Mike Zemke, Media Coordinator for Toys for Toys, said.

      Zemke said they've already received an additional 2,000 toys from the national Toys for Tots drive, but he's still worried that many children will go without this holiday. He adds that they have more than one hundred toy drop off sites, several of which offer promotions.

      Newschannel 15 is serving as a drop off location for the Toys for Tots program. Through December 16th, you can drop off a new unwrapped toy at either our Conway or Florence studios. The Conway studio is at 1194 Atlantic Avenue and the Florence location is at 1510 South Floyd Circle.

      You can drop off your toys between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

      United Way of Horry County is seeing the same dip in numbers compared to last year.

      "The economy is still hitting hard we've seen a little bit of decline. Currently in our campaign we're a few percentages lower than we were last year at this time. And some of our agencies doing their Christmas assistances are also lower with presents coming in," says Julie Kopnicky with United Way.

      North Strand Helping Hand is one of the more than 40 agencies that the United Way funds.

      2011 has also been a particularly tough year financially for North Strand Helping Hand, Executive Director Margaret Owens said.

      "Many civic organizations, churches, corporations, and individuals that have supported us in the past, have not been able to support us this year at the levels of the past. Many donors are doing what they can, but they simply do not have the financial resources to give as they have in the past," Owens said.

      Owens adds those interested in helping during the holidays need to contact North Strand Helping Hand at 843-399-0862.

      "We are still in need of financial donations and toys for children in order to make the holidays a little brighter for those in need," she said.