During the holidays, caseworkers at Lucas County Children Services take on Santa’s work with help from a community of elves.
Toy donations fill a room where the agency’s caseworkers choose gifts for up to 1,500 abused and neglected area children.
“If we have a girly-girl who is 7 who loves Barbie dolls, there is a Barbie section... [for] an artistic child, we have an arts-and-crafts section,” organization spokesman Julie Malkin said.
Numerous organizations are collecting toys this holiday season to give to needy children. Among them:
The Noel Project
Donate new, $10 toys through theChurch on Strayer in Maumee or its Fremont campus. Drop off toys until Friday at 3000 Strayer Rd., Maumee; 1105 County Road 41, Fremont; or donate funds or toys at Huntington Bank locations.
Lucas County Children Services
Drop off new, unwrapped toys until Dec. 16 at collection sites, including: Allshred Services, 3940 Technology Dr., Maumee; Burger King, Banner Mattress & Furniture, and Family Video locations in the Toledo area; The Blade, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo; Car Stereo One, 4920 Monroe St., Toledo; Woodcraft, 5311 Airport Highway, Toledo; and at Buckeye CableSystem bill payment centers at 5566 Southwyck Boulevard, Toledo; 2600 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo; and 3021 Navarre Ave., Oregon. Before or after Dec. 16, bring toys and bicycles to the agency at 705 Adams St., Toledo.
Toys for Tots
Volunteers and the U.S. Marines collect new, unwrapped toys. Some collection sites will remain open until Dec. 16. Search a list of sites online at: http://perrysburg-oh.toysfortots.org or call 419-392-3923 for information.
Hope for the Holidays
WTVG-TV, Channel 13 is collecting toys to be distributed by the Salvation Army Northwest Ohio Area Services. Toys can be dropped off until Dec. 21 at donation sites including 13abc, 4247 Dorr St., Toledo; many Vito's Pizza and Subs locations; area Salvation Army offices; Hylant Group at 811 Madison Ave., Toledo; Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer at 3516 Granite Circle,Toledo; and five area Walmart stores.
Hand-picked gifts plus a book are delivered to a parent or caregiver in a dark trash bag, sometimes with wrapping paper to assist in the toy-to-gift transformation. The system is designed so children don’t realize the presents come courtesy of kind-hearted donors who fill boxes around Toledo with dolls, games, and toys. The community also contributes a zoo’s worth of stuffed animals during the annual Teddy Bear Toss, which was this month at a Toledo Walleye hockey game.
“Toledoans are very generous,” said Ms. Malkin, adding that many “understand what it’s like to do without.”
The agency’s toy drive is one of several efforts to ensure a happy holiday for the region’s children and families in need. Churches, schools, businesses, nonprofits, and other groups gather goodies through traditional toy drives and creative collection efforts.
At St. Ursula Academy, attendees of the high school Christmas dance traditionally donate a toy instead of buying dates a corsage or boutonniere.
“They usually just end up on the floor at the dance. It’s a nicer way to give back during Christmastime,” said Katie McKernan, a senior and student council president.
The students’ donations go to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. In 2011, the local Toys for Tots effort provided toys for 3,310 children, according to Lance Cpl. Robert McBee of the Perrysburg Township-based Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines. About 150 Marines and 350 to 400 volunteers, including local businesses that host a drop-box site, are involved in this season’s area drive, he said.
Toys for Tots benefited from other unique efforts. Whitmer High School waived its $6 adult and $4 student admission price for a girls basketball game last Tuesday if fans donated a toy. Basketball players and members of student clubs helped collect four big boxes of toys at the game, said Lori Berryman, the school’s dean and activities coordinator.
Nine employees of Toledo Auto Care, 4544 Monroe St., and a handful of volunteers will donate their time Saturday for a special Toys for Tots event. Customers will receive a free oil change in exchange for donating a gift to Toys for Tots. The shop normally is closed Saturdays but will be open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the event, which includes a visit from Santa from noon to 2 p.m.
The Noel Project accepts donations of new, $10 toys and distributes them to about 500 families. One bicycle per family, a Christmas meal, and warm coats also are handed out by the organizers from the Church on Strayer. The drive collects toys for children ages 12 and younger, and organizers said donations suited for the older children in that age range can be the most scarce. Children get to pick out which gifts they would like during a Christmas party planned for Saturday.
“It’s an amazing thing. It’s wonderful to see the kids,” said the church’s Melony Bradley, who helps organize the toy drive. “We are asking people to help give Christmas to those kids.”
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Last year, about 8,000 new and unwrapped toys were donated during the first Hope for the Holidays toy drive, launched by WTVG-TV, Channel 13. This year, the drive continues at more than two dozen drop boxes around Toledo. More than 1,400 families sought aid from the Salvation Army Northwest Ohio Area Services.
Other groups found ways to sweeten the deal for potential donors. A toy drive at Armory Church, 3319 Nebraska Ave., provides added incentive to donate. Each donated toy valued at $5 or more receives one entry into a prize drawing for free residential lawn care and snow removal for a year, provided by Absolute Lawn and Landscaping. Toys must be donated by Dec. 20 and will be given to a local nonprofit organization, the Rev. William James said.
At Lucas County Children Services, toys as well as gift cards to retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are appreciated because “teens like to shop for themselves,” Ms. Malkin said. The agency also seeks items for babies and toddlers and welcomes diapers, rattles, and other supplies, she said.
Ms. Malkin said the agency’s theme this year is “Give the best gift ever.” She offered simple advice on shopping for a child on a toy drive list: Buy gifts your children, or children you know, would love to receive.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6065.