I started the Mayer Friends and Family Toy Drive in 2016. I had come to a place in my life where I was very grateful for all that I had, and I wanted to see if I could do some good in the world. I wanted to give more than I had been given. Primarily, I wanted to use my social network to drive this effort. I know many folks and am easily connected to them through social media.
I have long been familiar with Cincinnati's St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP), which has worked in our local community for over 150 years. Once I contacted them, I learned of the Angel Toy Program. Members in the community make charitable contributions of new, unwrapped toys for the free toy pantry, which is set up like a toy store with toys organized by age group.
Families register with SVDP in the fall for this program to request gift assistance. On the day of toy distribution, the families come to the center on Bank Street in downtown Cincinnati. Children go to one part of the center to have treats and do Christmas crafts while their parents or caregivers, along with a volunteer, choose new, unwrapped toys for their children from the shelves of the toy pantry. Other volunteers help wrap the gifts, and the families leave with a sack full of toys for Christmas morning.
The first year I organized this drive with my friends, family, and UC colleagues, we collected 200 toys! I thought that was a lot. Last year, we collected 1575 - an all-time record!! Over 8 drives, we have collected 6785 brand-new toys for the great kids in our community.
We collect toys during November and then deliver them at the beginning of December. I post many videos detailing how to donate, and I always end with my tagline, "Together, we do a lot of good!"