All kids deserve to have fun! This is especially true for children in the foster care system going through big changes and hard times. Leaving the lives they have known is always hard. It is even more challenging for the many who experienced homelessness, living in shelters and cars, and being left alone or in unsafe places. When you give a foster child a toy, you give them a little something of their own to cherish and enjoy. This is why we are so grateful for toy donations – it is a wonderful gesture that makes a big difference.
Maria Verdin, social worker at A Better Way Agency
The annual BACC Toy Drive allows Bay Area foster children and underprivileged youth to experience the joy, love and acceptance of Christmas. Since the Toy Drive began ten years ago, we have consistently given between 2,000 and 2,500 toys and gift cards annually. As part of celebrating the Toy Drive’s 10th Anniversary, we want to expand the number of toys and gift cards given in order to meet more needs and we need your help.
Keep reading to get inspired by others and learn specific ways you can expand your contribution to the Toy Drive by influencing others to give. If each of us convinced one new person to donate a toy, we could double the number of children who receive their very own toy this Christmas.
Impact of Toy Drive Toys
7,000 Bay Area children and teens currently live in foster care. These innocent children experience loss and heartache not only from the abuse, abandonment and/or neglect that led them into the system, but they also face uncertainty around their future as they change homes and wait for reunification, adoption or aging out of the system.
Toy drive toys are not just toys, they are a means to overcome evil these kids have experienced with good (Romans 12:21). Many foster kids have been forced to grow up too fast, often having to act like adults and care for themselves to survive in unsafe and unpredictable surroundings. Toy drive toys give them permission to be and act like the kids again. In general, toys allow for developmental growth and exploration. Toys drive toys also provide a sense of normalcy and an opportunity for positive imaginative experiences that relieve stress and worry.
Here are some quotes to inspire you about the impact your donations will have.
“My mom was raising two kids under 5 on her own. She was holding down two waitressing jobs in Reno. Recently divorced and struggling to make ends meet, there was not going to be a Christmas for us. She found a county Christmas party for families in need. It felt like a thousand kids were there, we all had lunch at a school lunchroom with our parents. The decorations were great, it seemed so huge. Santa arrived on a helicopter, never seen one before! We all got stockings with candy and sat on the floor while Santa’s helpers handed out wrapped gifts to every kid there. I remember all the joyful squealing as the gifts were opened immediately.
My gift was incredible. It was a Secret Agent Spy Kit. It was a book that shot a dart from the spine. Inside the book were handcuffs, sunglasses and a note book. It was one of those gifts that helps define what gratitude feels like. It made me feel special, specifically thought of, and a true believer that Santa knew my heart without me having to tell him. It helped me get through some rough times.
Like all dads, I want to give my girls gifts that help them know they are special to me. When I shop for gifts for the toy drive, I think specifically about how each toy is going to help a child feel special and considered. Each toy has it’s own mission.”
~ DJ Larsen, childhood memory receiving a toy drive toy.
“I entered the foster system as a teenager and eventually aged out of the system at 18. Living in a group home is rough! I actually don’t remember Christmas during those times. It was hard being all alone with no family that cared about me. Let’s not forget the teenagers in our toy drive giving. Show them someone is thinking of them too.”
~Charvette Blincoe, MBA, a foster success story
“My husband and I have given to the toy drive every year since it started in 2007. We had the pleasure of running toy drive operations a few years ago, and the BACC Toy Drive is an awesome task. Last year, the toy drive became really personal. Our foster to adopt son lived in 4 different situations in his short 3 years of life before joining our family. When he received a toy from the BACC Toy Drive that was thoughtfully picked out for him by his social worker, his face lit up with joy and he danced around saying ‘mine, mine, mine’ in a good way.”
~Poppy Anderson, foster to adopt parent
Expanding our reach – Inspire others to give
As we see in the numbers, the need among local foster and at-risk youth is immense and we currently meet less than 35% of the need. We can increase our collective giving if we each expand our reach by inspiring others to give to the Toy Drive along with us. Choosing to give your heart to inspiring others to give to the toy drive will actually help you feel renewed and refreshed this holiday season:
Anyone who gives a lot will succeed. Anyone who renews others will be renewed.
Proverbs 11:25 NIRV
Here are some ways YOU can increase the toy drive impact through more donations. Pick what is doable for you.
1. Inspire co-workers
Start small by sharing with a few co-workers about the Toy Drive. Be sure to talk with the opinion leaders at work, because once they are inspired they will help spread the word for you. Some additional ways you can inspire your coworkers are:
- Decide to give together as a department and set a collective goal.
- Try to foster some healthy competition between different departments to see which department can give more.
- Some companies (corporate & privately owned) look for ways to do good and make donations at the end of the year. See if your company is one of them by talking to your boss and/or HR to find out. If your company needs to work directly with BACC to make a monetary donation, please contact Nathan Schaffernoth at email@example.com
Morgan McClelland, Elresa Snell and Erinne Seay got their company, Pivotal, invested in the Toy Drive three years ago. The BACC Toy Drive has become the office’s annual benevolent project. Each office gives 50 to 60 awesome gifts per year.
Kence Anderson started a new job just four months ago at Bonsai in Berkeley. He took his passion for the Toy Drive with him and inspired his co-workers to participate. When he made an announcement about the Toy Drive this year, some co-workers used their lunch breaks that same day to purchase toys to donate. His office of 40 people has set a goal of giving 100 toys.
High school and college students, this is for you. Talk to a teacher or a club leader or even the principal about the Toy Drive. You’ll need a box or bins to collect the toys, signs and you’ll need to make lots and lots of announcements. Get teachers involved in bringing toys as well as students.
Inspire extended family
Have conversations with family members to inspire them to donate toys or gift cards towards the Toy Drive along with you. At your Thanksgiving celebration this year, ask each family member to bring a toy or gift card to donate to the toy drive as an expression of gratitude for all they have.
Inspire neighbors and friends
Host a neighborhood potluck or cookie exchange and ask everyone to bring an unwrapped new toy to donate towards the Toy Drive. Or pass out flyers to neighbors’ homes with a candy cane on it asking for toy donations and give a day/time when you will return to collect the toys.
The Toy Drive is a great opportunity to inspire your children to give. Help them earn money through serving others or through fundraising efforts like bake sales or hot cocoa stands. Take them shopping with the money they earned to pick out toys they know kids their age will enjoy. This gets them personally invested. Also look for groups your kids are involved in to pull into the toy drive effort. Consider scout troops, music programs, and sporting teams. Groups often look for ways to do good and will gladly join an already establish toy drive where the work of connecting to agencies is already done.
Inspired Black Friday shopping
Do your Toy Drive shopping on Black Friday to increase the number of toys you are able to purchase with your budgeted donation amount.
Toy Drive Guidelines
As you go out to inspire others to do good by giving to the Toy Drive, here are simple guidelines to follow.
- New, unwrapped toys
- Gift cards strongly encouraged for older kids. Make sure to write the value of the card on the outside of the gift card.
- NO stuffed animals
- Make checks out to BACC. Memo line Toy Drive. One hundred percent of these donations go directly to the partner agencies to purchase specific toys for kids.
- If people give you cash donations towards for toy drive, please turn the cash into toys or gift card
- Deadline for collecting toys is Sunday, December 10th @ 3:00pm at the Holiday Celebration Service at Santa Clara Convention Center. Make sure to collect donations from your circle of influence before then and come early to the Holiday Service to drop them off at the Toy Drive.
Why is the deadline so early? The agency partners need time to sort, wrap and deliver the toys directly to each child before Christmas.