continued “The response from the staff was really favorable,” Long said. “I had a number of people reach out to me after we did the donations … and say, ‘What more can we do and can we still contribute to this toy drive?’”
Saccocio said the district’s efforts were helpful, especially early in the holiday season.
“An early event like this raises awareness,” Saccocio said. “When people hear about it many are prompted to go do something themselves.”
The mission’s Holiday Toy Store runs for three days starting Dec. 18 and more than 1,000 children are expected to receive gifts through it this year. Parents or guardians visit the transformed dinning center at the City Mission and are able to select what gifts to give their children.
Instead of just handing out donated gifts on one day, the toy store takes more effort but is more empowering for parents and exciting for children.
“We want this to be a great experience for both the parents and children,” Saccocio said. “The child really never knows that City Mission is involved, which to me is much closer to the magic of Christmas.”
Over the last several years, the mission has seen need increase across the board, from the number of nights lodging in the homeless shelter is sought to the number of meals being served. A “very generous community” has helped meet the increasing demands, he said.
“It is sad to see the need go up, but … we are seeing a lot of success stories,” Saccocio said.
Each year, he said the amount of gifts donated for 12- to 14-year-olds tend to fall a little short. If parents are unsure what to donate for certain age groups, he suggested taking their children shopping and asking them to select gifts they would like to receive. The price range for gifts usually falls around $20 to $40.
“We have found it is a great way for families to do it together,” he said.
Anyone interested in making a donation or volunteering for the City Mission’s Holiday Toy Store can contact Toy Store Coordinator Tammy Longo at 346-2275 ext. 310 or by email at email@example.com.
“We do this every year … we really trust the community will respond,” Saccocio said.