13 Dec Joy to the World: How Our Toy Donations Lift Up Families
The importance of giving children the opportunity to play with toys cannot be overstated. In fact, the role of play in contributing to a child’s development and well-being is so critical that the United Nations has recognized it as the right of every child on the planet. Unfortunately, many children are deprived of this right as the result of violent conflict, natural disasters, child labor, or poverty. At Good360, toys are a critical part of our mission to transform lives through product donations. In 2018 alone, we distributed 454,483 toys to our network of nonprofit partners.
We’ve seen time and again how a board game can bring relief to a child or an entire family who have endured the trauma of a disaster like a tornado or hurricane. We’ve seen how a simple thing like a doll can completely brighten up the life of a girl whose daily existence is one of extreme poverty. There are few situations in which a toy can’t lift up a child’s mood or bring a measure of joy to otherwise challenging circumstances for families in need. That’s especially true at this time of the year when many of the people we serve are struggling to make it through the holiday season, trying to juggle necessities such as food and housing with optional expenses like gift giving. Providing toys to families with fewer means is taking on even greater importance this year with the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us stores nationwide. The chain supported many children’s philanthropies and its bankruptcy has left a gap in toy giving.
In August, we partnered with the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) to help fill that gap with Toys for Joy. The program gives independent toy makers who are members of ASTRA an easy way to ensure that their donations reach fully vetted nonprofit organizations. Toys for Joy is just the kind of purposeful giving program that highlights the strength of our unique product philanthropy model, and our ability to create positive impact. Our membership includes thousands of nonprofit organizations that support children in need across the country, allowing us to assemble the different donations of ASTRA members and distribute them in a way where they will make the most difference. We also activated our public-private partnerships to respond to a number of major disasters this year. We shipped truckloads of toys to Panama City after Hurricane Michael and to Puerto Rico as it recovered from the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. In the aftermath of a disaster, toys can provide a welcome distraction for children and families, especially if they’ve been displaced from their homes and living in temporary shelters. Hasbro in particular, has been a major partner in our disaster recovery efforts by distributing its PlayRelief Kits, which include classic favorites like Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, Sorry and Scrabble.
Meanwhile, here at home, our toy donations continue to make an impact in communities across the country. Here are just a few of the stories we’re hearing from our nonprofits: Mattel alone has donated more than $2 million worth of toys to Good360 in 2018, serving more than 230 nonprofits. Some of these toys were shipped to Florida after Hurricane Michael pounded the state. Also, earlier this year, a donation of Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels playsets and action figures from Mattel went to the Royal Family Kids Camp in Georgia. The organization brings hope to pre-teen children who have been abused or neglected through a weeklong outdoor camp and yearlong mentoring programs. Upon opening her birthday present, one little girl said, “You mean, I get my very own doll?” and one little boy said of his toy, “I have been wishing and waiting for one of these, but I never thought I would get it!”
Another example is Gail’s House Inc in Palm Bay, Florida, that does an annual holiday toy giveaway. The organization improves the quality of life for at-risk children and their families. One Christmas, a mother of three was desperate to have something to give her children, a program director recalled. “She breathed a shaky sigh full of emotion and said, ‘I have been praying nonstop for the last four days. I finally stopped, because I realized that today is Christmas Eve, and nothing is going to happen for me this year.’ The tears started streaming down my face, once she noticed the bicycles, Barbies, baby dolls, and Books ‘n’ Book Buddies bundles that we gave to her children as she turned around.” Stories like these would not be possible without the help of our generous corporate donors. They include Hasbro, Mattel, ThinkGeek, and the members of ASTRA.
Toys are just one of many products we distribute throughout the year all over the world, but perhaps no other items bring as much joy and delight to the families we serve. It’s incredibly rewarding to know the impact that we’re making with these donations, especially as the toy industry is going through a period of change and disruption.