Two Fort Worth organizations are working early to make sure children in need will have presents during the holidays as companies warn of a toy shortage this season.
Alliance for Children is asking the public to donate for its annual pop-up Christmas shop and for volunteers. Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth is requesting donations for toys, gift cards and meals.
Molly Horn, public relations and marketing coordinator at Alliance, said families and caregivers who are struggling to provide gifts are so happy when they see donations, like a bike.
“We just really see the gratitude and joy on these caregivers’ faces,” Horn said. “They are able to give their child exactly what they wanted.”
Among the many to be affected are families dealing with medical issues or a crisis, and low-to-moderate income households.
Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, told CNN that the major shortage will cause high demand, and there won’t be enough products to fill the need. The company is behind the popular toy LOL Surprise!
Alliance helping child abuse victims
Since 2018, Alliance for Children has helped over 500 kids each year receive gifts during the holidays through its Christmas Connection pop-up market. Over 60% of families being served by Alliance reported they were in low-to-moderate income households.
The advocacy center partners with hospitals, law enforcement and state agencies to help child abuse victims. Children are able to receive counseling and other services for free.
Horn said the organization wants to bring joy to the children and take away stress from the caregivers.
“Some child in the family has been abused or hurt,” Horn said. “Our goal is to create a happy holiday for these kids after this terrible thing has happened.”
The pop-up store allows family members and other caregivers to pick out gifts for their children for free. Items like bikes, clothing, dolls, games and electronics are donated by the public.
Horn said she remembers meeting a mother of nine during the event. When the woman saw the donations she was shocked and speechless.
“If it weren’t for this store, she wouldn’t have been able to afford gifts for all nine kids,” Horn said. “Moments like that show you how necessary these things are and that these families really deserve our help.”
Alliance serves children ages 0-17. However, the organization has found that many donations are only for younger children.
“If a person wanted to donate to Christmas Connection and they were out shopping, I think my suggestion would be to remember that we serve all the way up to age 17,” Horn said.
The public can bring new and unwrapped items for donation to any Alliance for Children location until Dec. 3. Items can also be purchased online through Alliance’s Amazon Wish List. The organization is also accepting monetary donations.
Ronald McDonald House helping families dealing with medical needs
The Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth provides support to families with a child needing medical care through its residential community, family room inside Cook Children’s Hospital, and other programs. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary in November.
The organization serves 40-50 families during the holidays in a typical year. It provides meals, gifts and holiday activities for the families, including a Christmas tree lighting and Santa visit.
Inside the Ronald McDonald House there is a “toy room.” The organization keeps it stocked all year for children to receive gifts for milestones and to brighten their day. The room is filled with games, books, electronics, Legos, dolls, and more.
Caroline Watts, communications manager, said the room is the most popular in the house among the children.
During the holidays, the organization seeks to receive more donations to help parents pick out gifts for their children. Families are able to pick out items from the donations and receive help with wrapping.
Chief Impact Officer Beth Lamb said the donations allow parents to avoid going into busy stores during a pandemic. They are able to stay safe while also being able to pick out toys for their children.
“The parents, the look on their faces of sheer delight, gratefulness and relief especially at Christmas,” Lamb said.
The organization has a big need for toys for children and teenagers. Gift cards are usually for teens, especially when wanting to buy video games for their electronics.
People can drop off items at the Ronald McDonald House. Groups should contact the organization to set up a collection.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ronald McDonald House has had a high need for meals. The public is able to provide monetary donations which will allow the organization to work with a caterer to provide meals.
“It really takes some of the stress off too because they don’t have to worry about going to find food,” Lamb said.
Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth: 1001 8th Avenue.
To organize a group collection or volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, contact: Tonja Sparks, email@example.com.
Alliance for Children: 908 Southland Avenue, Fort Worth.
To know more about volunteer opportunities, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.