Hundreds of Christmas Presents for Needy Kids Stuck in Customs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hundreds of popular gifts intended for needy kids in the Bay Area are being held up by U.S. Customs and they will likely not arrive in time for Christmas. Scott Budman reports. (Published Monday, Dec 16, 2013)

    A Bay Area charity is reaching out to President Barack Obama in its time of need.

    Hundreds of popular gifts intended for needy kids in the Bay Area are being held up by U.S. Customs and they will likely not arrive in time for Christmas.

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    The Family Giving Tree’s warehouse in Menlo Park is full of toys. A good economy and lots of donors made sure of that.

    MORE: Bay Area Charities in Need of Holiday Toy Donations

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    But, a security snafu at the Port of Oakland is holding up a container with 900 scooters and skateboards inside, and it will probably remain at the port long past the Family Giving Tree’s Christmas deadline.

    A Family Giving Tree spokesperson said the charity’s container was chosen at random for extra screening.

    “They're doing their job,” Jennifer Cullenbine said. “They searched it and decided they wanted to check it a second time." That’s leaving the Giving Tree with empty boxes and a sense of helplessness.

    "We sent a letter to President Obama last night in our desperation,” Cullenbine said.

    MORE: Rejected Business School Project Turns Into Amazingly Successful Charity

    They’re reaching out to whoever might be able to help.

    "I've no issue with security, only with the timing,” Cullenbine said in the letter. “Their shipment contains Christmas gifts for 900 of the Bay Area’s neediest children.”

    Even with all the volunteers, they don't have the ability -- or the money -- to replace all those scooters.

    "We're looking for a Christmas miracle,” Cullenbine said.

    Attempts to reach the Port of Oakland for more information about the scooters and skateboards were unsuccessful.

    The Family Giving Tree wants to get the word out: They have the helmets, just not the scooters or boards.