HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This past year, the Toys for Tots program distributed about 45,000 toys to needy children around Oahu for the holidays. But Friday, about a hundred toys ended up in the garbage.
A state employee, who didn't want to be identified, said she was working at the MedQuest office near the Iwilei Costco at about 10 a.m. Friday. "I didn't see, but when my friends came down on break, they saw the Toys for Tots truck come along and dump a whole lot of toys into the dumpster," she said.
Other people saw what happened, and started going through the dumpster to pick out toys for themselves. The worker expressed surprise and shock that the toys would end up in the trash.
She said her office could have used the toys, since it works with low-income people. "It's for the needy. And so they could have donated it to us, and we could've left it in our waiting room for the children that were more needy instead of dumping it in the trash."
The toys appeared to be okay, and some of them even had price tags. But the Marines, who help coordinate Toys for Tots, said the toys did not meet their standards.
"We need to collect new, unused, unwrapped toys in order to be able to distribute them," said Toys for Tots assistant coordinator Capt. Luke Gaffney.
According to Gaffney, the toys were discarded after workers cleared out a nearby warehouse Friday. "At the end of every year we need to do a cleanout, and move any toys that might be left over because we do receive donations always through the end of the season," Gaffney said.
This reporter showed Gaffney some of the stuffed toys were found in a bag in the dumpster. "Unfortunately, these toys are soiled or ripped, like one of them has some stitching undone, things that put them in an unserviceable condition for what we are able to distribute," said Gaffney.
Even if the toys aren't brand new, the state worker who helped retrieve the toys from the dumpster and stored them in her office is still upset. "It could be donated, or given to IHS (Institute for Human Services) down the street, or something," she said. "But it doesn't belong in the dumpster.
Gaffney said the last thing the program wants to do is to throw out any toys, but when some bags of stuffed animals were opened today, there was a musty smell.
There are several more toys that are in good condition that will be stored for the next holiday season, but Gaffney said they will be checked again before they are distributed to children.
Watch our video for the full story.