Each year, you likely spend Christmas day soaking up the joy of watching little kids who woke up to presents from Santa. Sadly, not every kid gets the Santa experience, but there are some amazing toy drive programs that aim to help make Christmas day a little more merry for them. From national organizations to small-town charities, there are plenty of places where you can donate to help spread some holiday cheer.
Every year, the Salvation Army alone provides assistance to 23 million Americans. While not all of this assistance is necessarily given to kids at Christmastime, it is an eye-opening statistic that shows how many families are struggling across the country, including in your own community. There are a number of reasons a family may need some assistance, but no matter what led them to that point, their little kids deserve as happy of a Christmas as anyone else.
With so many people needing help, finding a legitimate toy drive can be a bit difficult. So, if you're interested in helping kids across the world, the country, or in your own neighborhood, here is a list of 10 places to look. And, remember, even if you're not able to give much, a small donation will still make a little kid's Christmas morning a bit brighter.
1. Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child is a program by Samaritan's Purse that's designed to provide gifts to children in need in more than 100 countries across the globe. Each gift arrives to a child in a shoe box which is packed by volunteers and collected at various participating locations. You can participate in this program by filling a shoe box of your own or by filling an online shoe box for $25.
2. Public Service Organizations
If you're looking for a local organization to either donate to or physically drop off a toy, check out your local public service offices. Police and fire departments often put on toy drives during the holidays to help out kids in the community... you just have to search for them.
3. Angel Tree Program
The Salvation Army works with organizations to provide Christmas cheer through the Angel Tree program. To contribute, you just need to find an organization or business nearby that is working with the Salvation Army and then pick an "angel" to sponsor this holiday season. Each "angel" comes with information on the child you're buying for and includes any special requests. You can also donate to the Angel Tree Christmas Prison Fellowship program which helps provide presents to kids whose parents have been incarcerated.
4. Toys For Tots
You've probably heard of the Toys for Tots program before, or have at least seen their distinctive logo around. This is a program where you can physically donate a toy which will then be given to a kid in need (you can also donate monetarily if you'd like). The program is run by the United States Marines, but the best way to participate is by finding a local program through their website.
5. Homeless Shelters
Your own community likely has shelters or soup kitchens that provide assistance to your neighborhood. You can always donate your time to these organizations, but they often run toy drives around the holidays to help the children who use their services. Just do a quick Google search to find one near you.
6. Operation Homefront
Operation Homefront is a national organization that provides assistance to military families across the US. Every year, they have a toy drive that's meant for military families who are struggling financially or request support in other ways. They accept monetary and toy donations and also partner with Dollar Stores across the country.
7. Local Children's Hospitals
Chronically sick kids likely won't get to go home for Christmas day. So, to help give them a happy holiday, consider donating toys to your local hospital. Many major children's hospitals accept donations year round, but also hold toy drives during the holidays. If you don't have a hospital nearby, but want to donate to sick kids and their families, look at organizations like St. Jude's or Ronald McDonald House.
8. Boys & Girls Clubs Of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America have chapters all over the United States (you can find yours here), and many of them hold toy drives or other charitable events during the holidays. This organization provides a safe place for at-risk kids to play, learn, and grow within their community.
9. News & Radio Stations
If you no longer listen to the radio (thanks to Spotify) and only catch up on the news online, you may be missing big toy donation events around your area. Oftentimes news and radio stations will host toy drives for their community or they will partner with area businesses for charitable events. So, if you live a commercial-free life, check out your local stations online to see how you can help your community.
10. Stuff-A-Bus Drives
Organizations across the US often hold "Stuff-A-Bus" toy drives around the holidays. The goal is to, literally, stuff a buss or tuck full of toys to be donated to kids in need (usually within their own community). There isn't a national "stuff-a-bus" organization like Toys for Tots, but a quick Google search will likely bring up some results in your area.