When we took over running the local campaign in 2016, we sort of followed the practice the previous Coordinator had done for the distribution of toys—families would be contacted by either phone or email to inform them when they could come to our warehouse and receive the gifts for their children. Our county is large, and the farthest point from our warehouse is about an hour away. On one of our distribution days, a woman came up to the pickup location and was crying, so we asked her if she was okay. She responded, “yes because my children will have a Christmas, but I used the last of my money to take Uber to get here.” After hearing that, and also having several people have their cars break down in our parking lot, my wife and Assistant Coordinator said that there had to be a better way to do this.
These families, who are already in financial need, should not have to come to us to get the toys, but we should get the toys to them. She came up with the idea to reach out to each municipality in the county and see if they would be willing to help us with the distribution of toys. The response was overwhelming. We had Mayors, Police Departments, Fire Departments, individuals from Public Works community organizations, and churches all wanting to be a part of our program. So, we worked on packing the toys for each different municipality, and they would come to our warehouse and take the toys back into the communities where the people lived.
There were a few bumps the first year, but we have ironed out all of that, and we all operate like a well-oiled machine now. The response we received from those receiving the toys, as well as those helping with distribution, was heartwarming. The families receiving the gifts were overjoyed that they were able to get the toys in their community, and those who assisted in the distribution were excited to be able to see the joy on each parent’s face as they knew their child was going to have a Christmas. Since starting this program our need to assist has grown tenfold and, we are so very appreciative of those who give of their time in the community to help make Christmas happen!