The annual toy drive for underprivileged children organized by Westport police officers gets under way in earnest Saturday, with a plea that the need is acute this year in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Officers will collect toys and cash donations in the Athletic Shoe Factory parking lot, 1560 Post Road East, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8 and 9, 15 and 16.

New and unwrapped toys, plus cash donations, are also being accepted through Dec. 16 at Police Department headquarters, 50 Jesup Road.

The drive is sponsored by the Westport Police Union Local 2080 and Police Benevolent Association.

Drive organizers said they anticipate greater need than in past years because families are struggling to recover from destruction caused by Sandy.