COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) --Every Christmas since 1954, St. Stephens Community House in Columbus has been giving toys to needy kids. Not this year.

Michelle Mills, St. Stephens President and CEO, says it was a "hard decision", one that came down to a choice of funding after-school and hunger programs or the toy giveaway. She and the board chose the former and hope a group of Columbus firefighters can take care of the latter.

Mills says they believe education is the long term solution to poverty and "making sure we have dollars to support after-school programs when we talk to donors is our first priority."

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Meantime, the Salvation Army says it's phone has been ringing "off the hook" as central Ohioans look for help over the holidays. Spokeswoman Kelli Trinoskey says registration for its food and toy program is up at least 45 percent from last year.

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