Dozens of stuffed animals sat smiling among more than 150 bags of toys and games spilling across a large meeting room at the Inquirer and Daily News Building this morning.

It was just one sign that the public has generously responded to calls for donations by the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots campaign in Philadelphia.

Last week, an "emergency toy rush" was declared by organizers and backers of the annual charitable effort.

As of last Tuesday, only about 20,000 play items had been donated, compared with some  40,000 a year ago, even though demand was greater this year, said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Putney, who spearheads the Philadelphia drive.

Today, he was happy to report a "remarkable" turnaround.

Last week's donations exceeded the tally of the previous four weeks.

"We already have 50,000 toys, if not more, already distributed to agencies in the Philadelphia area," he said this afternoon.

"We're just running like crazy," trying to pick up all the contributions, he said earlier.

Eighteen Marines and a half-dozen Holy Family University students have been picking up and distributing toys using six vans, a Humvee, a "seven-ton" - a military vehicle big enough to ferry 2,000 toys - and even their own cars, Putney said.

Churches, shelters and other agencies get  almost all of the toys to re-distribute to families.

The Marines also distribute some directly to the needy.

"I pack their whole Christmas, and show up with Marines in dress blues," Putney said.

Tomorrow, he hopes to present a bounty of gifts to a family with four young children whose home burned down last week.

The public has donated at least $22,000 in checks, Putney said.

During last Tuesday's news conference, Brian Tierney, CEO of the company that owns the Inquirer and Daily News, said the Broad Street building would be a 24/7 drop-off site.

Surrounding him were about half of the $9,500 in toys the company, Philadelphia Media Holdings, had donated.

The public came through - multiplying that gift many times - judging from the sprawling array of bags and boxes this morning.

Most of the locations are no longer accepting donations, but the toys could still be accepted at the Inquirer and Daily News this afternoon, Putney said.

After that, the best way to give is by check. For more details, go to www.toysfortotsphila.org.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.