His Toy Store Reimagined 2021: Heartwarming Stories from 12 Affiliates
For a second year, His Toy Store Reimagined provided holiday funding to our affiliate partners!
In 2021, a milestone year that celebrated 25 years of His Toy Store, we distributed $155,000 to 29 affiliate partners so they could bring holiday joy to 15,000 New Yorkers in need. Over 730 volunteers also served at various Thanksgiving and Christmas programs.
We asked our affiliate partners to share some special stories from His Toy Store last year:
A House on Beekman
We had 15 amazing volunteers show up to help us set up, run, and clean up from the event. We couldn't have run the event without them! One volunteer in particular offered to put on a magic show for the kids during the event, and this ended up being the highlight of the whole event for the kids.
Shared by a client: “I really enjoyed His Toy Store. I wanted to order a bunch of items but I narrowed it down to a few. I was delighted when they arrived and wrapped them up with it labeled from Avail. It helped to provide a nice addition to our Christmas! I can’t wait to tell my baby how special she is that there are people out there who love her and haven't even met her. The meal gift card really made my day! I have been quarantining with my daughter as we wait for Covid results—thank you for cheering me up! I’m so touched! Thanks!"
Beacon Christian Community Health Center
A mother approached our outreach coordinator during the holiday event to thank her and Hope for New York. The gift cards meant so much to her. It had been a difficult year for her and her family as they struggled with Covid-19 and the emotional and economic consequences of the pandemic in its second year. This holiday season especially, she and her family found themselves financially strapped and food insecure. The gift cards for her children were a virtual God-send. They, through Beacon's outreach, made it possible for her children to have Christmas. Such tender mercies is what the His Toy Store program makes possible for those in need in Staten Island during the holiday season.
Hope for New York volunteers helped us wrap over one thousand presents for the children in our communities. We hosted groups from companies to families and we were blown away by the volunteer mobilization. Additionally, we had a father and his son who volunteered with us to deliver turkeys come back to deliver toys and they have made a commitment to continue to pursue supporting our organization through volunteerism.
One of our Graffiti Kids moms recently lost her husband to COVID. She and her two adopted children were forced to relocate for financial reasons. We knew she was struggling and were so excited to see her at this event. The next day, we received a message from her that said, “All three of us were so happy to 'come home' to Graffiti yesterday! It’s been a long time since my kids have seen Santa. We are so broke. I haven’t gotten them a single Christmas present yet. I was so happy to watch them open yours! The gifts you guys gave them were spot on and I am so excited to buy more now. THANK YOU."
The Open Door
We were also thrilled to welcome a group from Exilic Church. We were so thankful to have these volunteers witness the familia of The Open Door first hand!
At the holiday market, a client came with her children. They were so excited to meet Santa and take a family photo with him. With the gift cards the HFNY grant provided, she mentioned she'd be able to buy their family a warm Christmas meal and some additional gifts her kids had asked for. She shared feeling excitement over seeing their faces on Christmas morning when they realized they'd received gifts from their mom. By providing gift cards, clients were able to feel dignity and pride as they bought their own gifts for their family.
Safe Families for Children
We have a single mom who has been a part of our program off and on for several years now. She has 5 children and her parents are elderly and unable to help. She let us know that the father of the youngest "went away" and that has been an added stress this holiday season. She was SO surprised and so grateful for the gifts for the kids, the smaller gift cards to meet any other needs for the kids and the extra food card.
St. Paul's House
The volunteers are fantastic! One area where the volunteers met our needs was by providing live music and singing on the evening when we had our Christmas Party for our homeless friends. Volunteers lined up on our front stoop in the cold to sing to our patrons that were also in the cold waiting online for their hot meal, drinks, and Christmas gifts. It was such a nice treat and a great way to support our patrons that they stayed outside the entire time while each guest received their items.
The Father's Heart
Story #1: Ceci, a single mom of a two-year-old boy, is being mentored by one of our volunteers who came to us ten years ago through HFNY. She was so grateful for the toy, gift, warm reception and prayer. She reported that her son usually struggles in situations like this, but she was amazed at how well he did, especially around the volunteers and with other kids. She felt like its was miraculous and wants to come back to our KidZone program in January.
Story #2: "I'm still in awe of the dedication of the volunteers who decorated, sang Christmas carols outside on the steps for the families waiting to come in and to the whole block, took pictures, worked with the children doing arts and crafts, wrapped gifts, gave out Bibles, were personal shoppers and greeters. They showed such love and tenderness to every parent and child. A very blessed day for all and probably our favorite event of the year."
Young Life Gotham City
Sarah Lee, a HFNY volunteer with a heart to give back to her community in Queens, came out and was a real support to our team. She stepped up to help throughout the night wherever we had the most need!
Story #1: Through the HFNY holiday grant, we were able to provide gifts for moms who signed up last minute and to serve their physical needs like a full belly. We provided a safe space for family members to create a memory that will carry them into the new year.
Story #2: Susi is a teen mom who has one son, Anthony and is due with a baby girl in a week. Susi was in need of a car seat for her baby girl and we were able to provide one for her child. With her having a high-risk pregnancy, we were also able to provide an Uber to pick her up and bring her back home with her gifts. Susi told us she felt extremely blessed that she now has what she needs for her new baby, and is able to give her son Anthony great Christmas gifts this year.