When we announced our Second Annual Holiday Toy Drive in the middle of a global pandemic, we anticipated receiving many requests for help from families in our community. Within a month of launching our sign-up form, we had over 400 responses for individual children from our families. With more than double our total requests from last year, we knew that we had some serious work to do to meet the need, so we dove right in!

Our volunteers, led by our Director of Community Outreach, Ms. Stephanie Risley, began the work on raising funds, setting out donation bins for new toys at Wildflower Vegan Cafe, Vegans Are Us, Cumberland Green Apartments, and the Southern State Correctional Facility, organizing and contacting our requests and families, and purchasing and wrapping presents. We even created a virtual giving tree where we posted the needs of our families on social media and our community members could pick a family to sponsor and provide gifts.

Within a span of two months, we had raised over $2,000 (including a $500 mini-grant from Atlantic City Electric for this event!) to purchase gifts, received countless toy donations from our bins, and found 27 sponsors for families on our virtual giving tree! With all of this help from our community, we were able to fill all of the individual requests and also had about 250 toys to give out to the general public on the day of our event!

Due to the pandemic, 2020 has been the year of adjustments and our toy drive also needed to be adjusted. We switched our normal event to a contactless drive-thru pickup to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. For 4+ hours, volunteers from Our Future First, the Cumberland County Black Union, and Cook Up Radio stood outside to load gifts into cars in 40° weather. While the weather was a little colder than we would have liked, we stayed warm by moving around and being filled with the Christmas spirit!

We would like to thank all of our donors and volunteers for helping to make the holidays a little more special for our community in a time when we needed it the most! We’d also like to thank our families that trust us to help them out in their time of need and to respect their privacy because this is a responsibility that we take great pride in! Until next year, Happy Holidays!

Getting ready for the drive-thru pickup to start!