Community Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

When COVID Complicated the Annual Toy Drive, South Orange-Maplewood Parenting Center Pivoted

The following is from the South Orange-Maplewood School District Parenting Center:

The South Orange-Maplewood community has once again proven that when asked to help ensure the promise of the holiday season to all families within the community they come out in full force. In past years, the SOMSD Parenting Center, under the direction of Karen Weiland, has led a holiday toy drive that has, for years, been successful in its goal to make sure all the children in the district have holiday gifts to open.

This year was particularly challenging given the limits imposed by the coronavirus, but SOMA residents gladly stepped up once again. While toys were not collected as in previous years, community members pivoted quickly and creatively to spread holiday joy.

Donations of over $28,000 on the GoFundMe page allowed for the purchase of hundreds of gifts for children of all ages to be distributed to over 200 families. Further donations of gift cards to local supermarkets ensured a holiday meal was possible for families as well.

Local businesses played a critical role, with Sparkhouse Toys, Words Bookstore, No. 165 and Toy Division working with volunteers to fill large orders for toys, books, scarves, and hats, offering their goods, and either contributing funds as well or offering those goods at a lower cost. Parenting Center interns and other volunteers spent two days delivering the gifts to families, the last step in this very successful Toy Drive effort.

A million thanks to all the businesses and community members who responded to the call and made the SOMSD Toy Drive a rousing success!

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