Toy Drive For Foster Children Marks 20th Year SanTan Sun News

Toy Drive For Foster Children Marks 20th Year

December 5th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Toy Drive For Foster Children Marks 20th Year
Community
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By Dan Shufelt

Guest Writer

In 1998, in their North Phoenix garage, Paul and Kathy Donaldson set out to fulfill a dream. Their dream was that every child would have a toy to open during the holidays. We all know that there are way too many children for whom the holiday season is not a merry one.

Family issues, financial struggles and more take the luster off of the season, and it’s the innocent children that regrettably go without. Kathy and Paul set out to change that, and over 20 years they have made a huge impact in the lives of thousands of boys and girls.

In that first year, 300 little ones received toys. Collection drives in local businesses and support from friends and family supplied dolls, games and other toys that were distributed to kids in need.

The Arizona Helping Hands Holiday Toy Drive was born.

Roll forward to 2017. Over these years, relationships have been established with more local companies, with national supporters and with families who understand the importance of sharing their blessings with others who are less fortunate.

Major employers including Southwest Airlines, UPS and the Bob Parsons group of companies hold drives and collection events to assist in our efforts. Hundreds of elves assist throughout November and December to sort and organize toys – all in the mission to work toward that dream, that children will not go without just because their circumstances are a bit different.

Because of the support we were blessed to receive, in 2017 we provided toys during the month of December to 17,000 children. Over 20 years, the number has totaled in the hundreds of thousands!

This seasonal program has been led by three women dedicated to making the holidays happy for every boy and girl.

In addition to Kathy Donaldson, Gail Coronato and Jean Nelson make up the terrific threesome who come together every year to lead the charge. As volunteers, they have not taken a penny for their service as Santa’s biggest helpers. They tell us that it is an act of love to spread the joy of the season to so many.

Every year there are innumerable moments of connection with families, moments of joy and gratitude. A few years ago, a young mom showed up at our office with 4-year-old Jimmy a few days before Christmas. She told us that she had never asked for help before, but that times were tough that year. Jimmy stated that “Santa won’t be coming to our house this year.”

Through her tears, Gail told Jimmy she was going to see about that. She proceeded to march into our warehouse and fill a very special bag for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve to Jimmy’s house. One treasured memory in years of cherished moments.

We can’t assist so many kids without community support. We need businesses to hold drives and collect the baby dolls, Candyland games, remote controlled cars and every imaginable item to fill Santa’s list for thousands of kids.

Will you reach out beyond your family this year to help? There are way too many kids remaining who are relying on Arizona Helping Hands to have a gift to open this December, and being our 20th year, we truly want to set the bar even higher and help more boys and girls.

For more information and to support our Holiday Toy drive, contact ssiegel@azhelpinghands.org. Posters, boxes and other materials are available to make your drive or event a success. We can’t make it happen without the Helping Hands of many more elves.

Upcoming dates:

· Holiday Kickoff Breakfast – an informational session for companies interested in sponsoring a drive – contact ssiegel@azhelpinghands.org for information.

· Fill Santa’s Sleigh – An open house for the community to come together to support the Toy Drive. Join us 5-7 p.m. Dec. 5 at 3110 E Thunderbird Road, Phoenix, for a tour of the new Arizona Helping Hands facility. Admission is free with toy donations.

-Dan Shufelt is president/CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more at azhelpinghands.org or email dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org.

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