Toy Drive That Will Affect 8,989 Lives In 2021 - We Did It!

We never anticipated when we started our 2021 toy drive that we would meet our goal of brightening the lives of 5,000 children spending their Christmas holiday in a Puget Sound area hospital. We had talked at length about how COVID was impacting our community. Fewer people were out and about. The businesses and churches that had previously displayed our toy drive collection boxes had fewer people attending than in previous years.

 

On a Saturday in late September, Zach, Noah and I drove to a Starbucks in Silverdale to talk with their manager about our toy drive to see if she would be willing to support our Christmas toy drive by allowing us to place a toy drive collection box in her cafe. We walked into the store and noticed that there were only two customers sitting at a table. Outside the store there was a huge lineup of cars at the drive-through window.

At that moment, I realized that with fewer customers coming into business establishments, they would likely not see our toy drive collection boxes. Given this, we anticipated far fewer toys would be donated than in previous years. Nevertheless, even against the odds we were determined to do the best we could starting with a video message from the Kidzz Helping Kidzz advisory board...

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS TOY DRIVE

Zachary and the Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory of children ages 7-14 have set a goal to raise at least 5000 toys to give to ill children at St. Michael Hospital, Seattle Children's Hospital and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital shortly before the Christmas holiday.  Toys will be new and donated from the community.  This is our biggest event of the year and we greatly appreciate the generous contributions from our community.

To donate toys by mail, please ship to:

 

Kidzz Helping Kidzz

10855 Silverdale Way NE, Unit 2224
Silverdale, WA 98383

Or send a letter (or check) to: 

 

Kidzz Helping Kidzz 
PO Box 2224
Silverdale, WA 98383

(Sorry, no packages to this PO Box)

Kidzz Helping Kidzz is a IRS tax exempt 501 (c) (3) charitable nonprofit organization. Some or all of your donation may be tax deductible. Please contact us with any questions. 

Christmas Toy Drive Carries On

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As I continued to reach out to businesses, churches, and schools in our community I found most very supportive and excited about our upcoming toy drive near me. In fact, several businesses contacted us to request toy donation boxes in their establishment.

 

Never in my wildest dreams had I anticipated doubling the number of toy donation boxes since our previous Christmas toy drive in 2019, when we had only 48 toy donation boxes throughout the community. In 2021, we ended up having requests for 100 toy donation boxes in the community!

Our toy drive collection boxes are not difficult to assemble, but they do take quite a bit of time.

I would estimate it takes at least one hour to make one of our toy collection boxes from start to finish. We purchase the large U-Haul boxes and then wrap the boxes, put posters on them, a sign, and then staple another poster on top of the sign. We then staple wood on the back of the poster and sign to provide support to the box.

Making 100 toy drive collection boxes that we could put into the community was quite an endeavor this year. I think we had at least five toy drive collection box making parties with our Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board of kids and other amazing volunteers.

 

Once we completed making the toy drive collection boxes, we simply did not have enough space in our house to contain them.

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We then decided to distribute the toy drive collection boxes into the community as soon as the businesses, churches and schools allowed.

Immediately after distributing the toy drive boxes, volunteers throughout the county started picking up toys. Zach, Noah and I began labeling each toy donation with our Kidzz Helping Kidzz logo with contact information.

We want families who receive one of our toy donations to know where that toy donation came from and to let us know how it may have helped their Christmas.

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So, by Thanksgiving weekend we had received nearly 200 toy donations already. Our Christmas toy donation count continued to steadily climb from there, and then redically jumped by mid-December. Each week's Christmas toy donation count was increasing by at least 2,000 toys.

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That means our "toy donation labeling and sorting" parties became more frequent each week, too.

 

This allowed us to keep up with the volume of toy donations we received.  

 

Our volunteers always showed up in full force to help us box toy donations quickly.

We received such an amazing variety of Christmas toy donations including books, candles, chromebooks, sports equipment, stuffed animals, art supplies, and more.

 

The Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board had such an excitement labeling, sorting and boxing the Christmas toy donations. You could tell, they felt good inside knowing that these toy donations were going to ill children in the hospital.

We had originally intended on delivering the toy donations to Seattle Children's Hospital, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, and St. Michael Medical Center all in one day. But because Mary Bridge Children's Hospital had an earlier cutoff time to receive toy donations than our Christmas gift donations drive date ended, a volunteer agreed to drive a full carload of Christmas toy donations over to them early. 

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As we got closer to Christmas toy donation delivery day, it seemed that our toy donations count was slowing down. We had received 4,200 toy donations and I did not anticipate many more Christmas donations coming to us before Christmas donation delivery.

 

Then, a friend pulled up with several boxes full of beautiful Christmas donations from her church. She also provided us with thousands of toy donations from a secondary toy drive sponsored by the military, in honor of Kidzz Helping Kidzz. I had no idea that toy drive was even taking place!

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Then, more calls started coming in from members of the community who were also bringing more toy donations.

One volunteer from Kingston brought in hundreds of toy donations that had filled his entire truck!

 

That evening we surpassed our 2021 goal and received more than 5,500 toy donations!  

The following day we had three amazing volunteers driving around Kitsap County in U-Haul trucks picking up our toy donation boxes and delivering any remaining toy donations. We then received a message through Facebook from the Manager of our local Petsmart store near me.

She wanted to know if she could donate stuffed animals, 1,000's of them, new with tags to our toy drive.

 

We had to read the message several times on my phone out of grateful disbelief.

Our Board Vice President, Rhandel immediately drove his van to Petsmart near me to pick up the donate stuffed animals.

 

He returned within 45 minutes back to "Kidzz Helping Kidzz headquarters" with his van full of several hundred donate stuffed animals but said he needed one of our rented 15-foot U-Haul trucks to pick up the remaining PetSmart Christmas donations. There were simply too many stuffed animals to fit into his large van!

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As soon as one of the volunteer drivers returned with the rented 15-foot U-Haul truck, Rhandel returned to Petsmart and came back with a nearly full truck of bags filled of donate stuffed animals.

 

We could not believe our eyes! Meanwhile, other community members were contacting me from churches and other businesses asking for a toy drop off near me. By evening, we had received 8,985 Christmas donations!

The following day, we had finished labeling and boxing all of the toy donations but ran out of boxes for the rest of the donate stuffed animals. We needed 25 more large U-Haul boxes but our go-to, U-Haul was sold out! So, we had to think resourcefully and determined the Kidzz Helping Kidzz toy donation boxes could help us one more time in delivering toy donations to children in the hospital.

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Although we were sad to see our handmade toy donation boxes go, we knew it was for a good cause. All-in-all, we ended up donating about 25 handmade Kidzz Helping Kidzz toy donation boxes to the cause, as it is the only way Christmas donations can be delivered to hospitals.

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Packing up the rented 26-foot U-Haul truck took hours and lots of skill! Everyone helped with this endeavor.  

 

At times we wondered if we would even be able to fit in all the donate toys for Christmas.

 

Finally, we got it done and celebrated with pizza for everyone!

The following day, members from our Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board, plus other volunteers joined us as we left the house at 7:30 AM, traveling around to all the hospitals, delivering toy donations and enjoying every minute of it!

Several of the kids from Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board were given the privilege of riding in an ambulance to Seattle Children's Hospital, and one even got hooked up to the gurney!

 

The kids were having so much fun! At Seattle Children's Hospital, we were greeted by Q13 News where they recorded us delivering Christmas donations and then interviewed several of the kids.

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We then drove to St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale where we were greeted by their President and his entire Leadership team. We unloaded the remaining toy donation boxes with Christmas gift donations and put them around their Christmas tree in the lobby.

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The President welcomed us and held a lovely ceremony. He gave special recognition to Zachary and to the Kids from Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board. All of the kids received beautiful backpacks filled with goodies! A reporter from our local newspaper, Kitsap Sun took pictures and interviewed Zachary and several kids from the Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board.  

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It was a sincere honor to join my family and the amazing volunteers of Kidzz Helping Kidzz as we delivered nearly 9,000 toy donations to children in hospitals throughout the Puget Sound area during the Christmas holiday.

 

One of our volunteers has referred to Zachary as the "Modern day Santa".  It is truly a gift to be able to give in this way and to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children. This toy drive is one I will never forget!

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