Rochelle, Georgia – Organization Partner
Like most people, I was familiar with Toys for Tots, but I had no idea just how vital this organization is to families during Christmas time. I assumed with so many agencies providing assistance to families that Toys for Tots was only making it easy for people to take advantage of the generosity of others. My opinion quickly changed a few years ago when I became a volunteer with a low-income housing complex. The housing development has 600 units and supplies housing for 300 families with at least two children per family. As a program volunteer, my job was to develop and oversee programs that would bring personal and educational development to the tenants. We offered parenting classes, G.E.D preparatory classes, after-school services and a food pantry. These services allowed me to have regular contact with the families and I came to know them on a personal level.
As a result, I learned that the many services that are offered for families during the holiday season are often overwhelmed with requests and cannot provide services to everyone that applies for assistance. I am a mother of five and grandmother of 23. I know how special Christmas is to children, and I also know how stressful it can be for parents that want to make their child feel special, but lack the means to do so. My heart ached for these parents. I wanted to help them have a Christmas I knew they deserved, but lacked the financial means to make it happen. Thankfully, as the program coordinator, I was in the habit of seeking out resources to assist us in providing needful services to our clients free of charge.
I had submitted an application to Toys for Tots, and when I received the email with the news of our agency's approval, I was ecstatic and so were the clients at the housing development. We planned the first Christmas party at the complex. The families were excited and helped with decorations and even brought a dish to share. Although this development is considered one of the worst places to live and has frequent visits from the local law enforcement, this moment was filled with plenty of joy. The Christmas spirit was alive. One client was especially happy. She was new to the complex and had spent all her money to obtain her place and have the utilities turned on. She explained to her two boys and two girls (ages seven to 13) that their apartment was their Christmas present and they would receive toys after Christmas. Words cannot adequately express the looks on their faces as they walked away with several wrapped presents. The mother was moved to tears and repeatedly thanked us for making their Christmas one to remember. There is no way we could have provided toys for 250 children of all ages on our own. Our agency was able to help this mother and other families have a wonderful Christmas because of the items we received from Toys for Tots. Yes, there are other agencies that provide needful services to families during the holiday season, but Toys for Tots helps children and adults maintain their belief in the magic of Christmas.