Last year's Westborough Youth and Family Services Free Holiday Store provided more than 600 gifts to local kids.
The need is greater this year, WYFS Director John Badenhausen said today.
"In general, I'm seeing people feeling more desperate, more of a sense of concern and urgency," he said.
WYFS began accepting donations of new unwrapped toys, books and stuffed animals for children ages birth to 18 on Nov. 1. WYFS and the Rotary Club of Westborough are co-sponsoring the drive, which started in 2001.
Donations will be accepted until the end of the year. Donations may be dropped off in the collection box outside the WYFS office, in the Forbes Municipal Building. The Westborough Public Library and the Westborough Fire Station will have colletion boxes as well.
The agency is collaborating with the interfaith clergy's Giving Tree program on this year's drive "to ensure community needs are met and we are not duplicating services," Badenhausen said.
The partnership with the Giving Tree is "giving us an opportunity to reach out to more families," he said.
Families seeking assistance complete applications, and then have private shopping appointments at the holiday store over the first three weeks in December, he said.
"We lay all of the gifts on the table. The parents can then come in and pick out what they like for their child," he said.
Families typically choose three gifts each.
Younger kids usually receive a book, a stuffed animal and three toys, as well as a hat knit by individuals from the Willows at Westborough, he said.