On a cold day in December, 2012, a program participant of Crossroads Recovery Center, who was homeless and looking for work and shelter, inquired about any programs that could help her with some toys for her three young children, who were temporarily living with a family member in Philadelphia until she could find a place to live. She lost her residence a few months prior, and was working very hard to find a job so she could afford a new apartment.
After researching for resources in the area, it was discovered that there were no programs that would help someone in need, who was not connected to a specific residential program. This included anyone homeless and impoverished; who were struggling to survive on their own. So, Crossroads Recovery Center became a toy collection site; now these families in need could have a Christmas for their children.
After that first year of successfully serving 134 children, Community Crossroads partnered with Stages Arts Initiative and Connect Points to serve other county families in need through additional service providers. This collaboration grew exponentially each year; 134 in 2012, 260 in 2013, 720 in 2014, 1,645 in 2015, 1895 in 2016 and 2017 2037 children! Our event now has grown so large that we have partnered with West Chester University to facilitate this event at the ‘Sturzebecker Health Science Center’ on the south campus.
Our costs have also increased to provide this service. All of our volunteers work tirelessly, for free, to coordinate this large event, but the program still has to pay for the space to facilitate the distribution, trucks to bring the gifts to the site, and the multiple costs associated with all of the materials needed to organize the event. The event in 2017 cost over $1,000.00 to pay for, this year we know this will exceed $1,500.00
All the participating agencies embark on fundraising to cover the costs; it is a daunting challenge as these agencies are non-profit and do not have any additional money for such a large program! Some of our volunteers will give their own money, in addition to all their time, to help with the program because we always fall short of our needs. That is why we are looking for contributions from the public, so that we can make this a success once again in 2018!
Through the incredible generosity of many who gave, the Toys for Tots program of Chester, Bucks and Montgomery Counties coordinated and distribute over 42,000 toys in a two day span. With the help from countless volunteers, this amazing program has given joy to the lives of many children on Christmas.
Recognition for the Toys for Tots program and how our less fortunate community members show such compassion and charity, even when they have little or nothing, is certainly worth sharing.
The face of a child receiving a gift, priceless!
Crossroads Recovery Center and Stages Arts Initiative are located in West Chester, PA.