As the Christmas season approaches, it’s time to give back and reach out. If your church or children’s ministry conducts an annual toy drive, you’ll need to know where to donate toys.
First, however, make sure families know what types of toys to purchase or collect. Do they need to be brand new? Are used-but-clean toys okay? Other considerations include price range, age ranges, and safety. (Some places, for example, don’t accept donations of toy guns or other weapons.) Also be clear about collection deadlines, because many programs distribute toys early in December.
For maximum impact, consider supporting local kid-friendly organizations. To get started, here are ideas about where to donate toys in ahead of the holiday season:
5 Ideas for Where to Donate Toys
1. Local Food Banks and Shelters
Check with nearby food banks and pantries, as well as homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. As December approaches, many of these places conduct toy drives and hold so-called Santa Shops. The goal is to let parents in need select items to put under the tree for their children. At other times of the year, shelters may need toys or books for waiting rooms, to keep kids occupied during consultations.
2. Children’s Hospitals or Clinics
Being sick or hospitalized is never fun, but it can be especially tough around the holidays. Hospitals and clinics that treat young patients often request toys near Christmastime. So your church or children’s ministry can brighten spirits and shine Jesus’ light. Check to see if you can include encouraging notes, drawings, or even photos with the toy donations.
3. Elementary Schools
In both urban and rural areas, churches now often partner with local public school systems. Especially in low-income areas, elementary schools are eager to connect with congregations for tutoring assistance and contributions. Food baskets and toys will make Christmas extra-special for families with young students.
This program, spearheaded by the Marine Corp., is active throughout the country. Visit the program’s website to learn more about how your children’s ministry can get involved. If no Toys for Tots campaigns currently exist in your area, consider launching one at your church!
5. Firehouses or Police Stations
Unfortunately, many first responders encounter kids in crisis. The good news is that members of your children’s ministry can make a world of difference. Contact nearby firehouses and police stations to see what types of toys they need. Stuffed animals, for example, are often in high demand to comfort children facing tough situations.
These are just a few ideas about where to donate toys. Keep your eyes open for nonprofit organizations near you. Then connect to inquire how your kids can contribute and be Jesus’ hands and feet this Christmas.