Toy drives meet widespread need
With three of every 10 Philadelphia kids living in poverty and many more low-income families in the suburbs, there is a big need for donated holiday toys. The region has traditionally responded with many toy drives, some large, some local.
Toys for Tots
The largest national toy drive, Toys for Tots, distributes around 15 million toys in regional drives, including one in the Philadelphia area. The drive, conducted by a foundation, is an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
Drop-off locations include Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us and many local participants. Toys go to kids up to age 12 in eligible area families. The drive seeks new or barely used, unwrapped toys, mainly worth $10 or more, with no weapon-themed toys or edible parts.
The Salvation Army distributes toys collected in several drives, including Stockings for Kids (NBC10/B101) and Joy of Sharing (CBS3/CW Philly 57). Eligible families apply to receive toys at one of the Salvation Army’s nine Philadelphia centers, where the toys are later distributed. Stockings for Kids collects toys at numerous schools and at Boscov’s stores.
Ronald McDonald Houses
Children with illnesses staying at Ronald McDonald Houses near the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Cooper Hospital in Camden and the Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington receive toys from the the Ronald McDonald House Charities drive. Any extra toys are given to new children entering the houses. “Our mission every holiday season is to provide support and hope and create a community of service for those children and families in need,” says Jennifer Shipman, a Ronald McDonald House employee.
Many churches, schools and community organizations also organize toy drives for local kids in need.
For example, the Operation Santa Claus toy drive, now in its 27th year, began as a program at Saint Anne’s Church in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It raises about $10,000 annually, which is used to purchase toys. Each year the organization collects the names of about 50 low-income families who receive toys on Christmas Eve.
“It can be a very moving experience,” says Fishtown resident Ed Hepworth. “One year we delivered the toys to a house that had no windows, just newspapers taped over them. Every year we come out for the happiness of kids even if it only stays for a short time.”
This holiday season, consider asking your children to share toys they rarely use or pick out a new toy to donate to brighten the season for another child.
Megan Schmidt is a MetroKids intern and journalism student at Temple University.