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Start Your Own Toy Drive This Christmas

People tend to be more generous around the holidays and this generosity includes toys. The easiest way to give this holiday season is to volunteer with a recognized group.
  • A festive room decorated for Christmas, featuring a large Christmas tree with lights and a variety of wrapped gifts in colorful paper arranged underneath. There are also several stuffed animals and toys among the presents. A wreath with a red bow hangs on the wall, and the scene includes a smaller decorated tree and shelves with additional holiday decorations.

Toys for Tots is one of such groups, Angel Tree or other local groups such as the fire department or hospital. By volunteering to help with these toy drives, you can help cut down on their workload and help someone in need at the same time.

If there are no local organizations that have a toy drive, you can start a new one. Begin by checking with the local city hall to see if there are any regulations as to how and where you may collect toys. Some towns may allow door-to-door collections; others may require designated drop off bins or collection bins.

Once the decision has been made, decide if you want to do an all-new toy drive or new to gently used. Both can be successful but it needs to be clear what you are collecting. Either way, it is best to have the gifts that are donated left unwrapped so that the volunteers can screen the gifts and get them sent to a child that matches by age and gender. Collecting new, unwrapped toys ensures that the donations are suitable for the children. Be sure to check all toys for broken or missing pieces. It’s also a good idea to check them against any recall notices.

Research local business and local businesses in the area that may donate either toys or cash toward the drive. Some may even allow you to have their location as a drop off point. Don’t limit your choices to toy stores. Check with the grocery or hardware stores. Check with the local library. It might surprise you which businesses are more than willing to help. Some businesses may even place a few toys in the drop-off bins to encourage more donations. Talk to the various churches in town about organizing a holiday toy drive to spread holiday cheer. Many of them may already do a small-scale toy drive. If you combine resources everyone will be able to give more to those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. This is especially important for low income families who struggle to provide holiday gifts for their children.

Start getting volunteers to sign up in early November to start collecting toys. This way people have time to plan and adjust his or her own holiday celebrations. Start advertising the toy drive by Thanksgiving. Contact the newspaper, radio and TV stations to see if you can get free ad space or airtime as a public service announcement. Set up dates to wrap and distribute the toys. Ensure that the donated toys are sorted and ready for distribution. Try to have the distribution as close to Christmas as possible, maybe even Christmas Eve. Consider organizing a holiday party where everyone brings a toy as the 'ticket' for entry.

Be sure to also thank all those who helped publicly for donating toys. Again, have the media thank the community and businesses that assisted in the drive. Thank all the volunteers, maybe even with a small token, even if it’s just cookies and hot chocolate for them after the work is all done.