CLEVELAND — Mark your calendar for Saturday, December 5, and come join WKYC Studios in supporting a drive-through toy collection to brighten the holidays for local children.
To participate, simply purchase a new, unwrapped toy (approximate value $20) suitable for children ages newborn to 18, and bring it to the “Stuff The Truck” event, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ohio City Square. The event will take place specifically at the corner of W. 25th Street and Lorain Road in Cleveland. Monetary donations will also be welcomed.
The toys will be given away throughout December to Cleveland-area families in need, as part of an annual partnership between the Cleveland Police Foundation and Skylight Financial Group.
If this were a normal year, the Skylight Financial Group would be planning its annual holiday networking event, which usually brings in hundreds of toys to be distributed. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, large -scale gatherings have been canceled to avoid further spread of the virus. Organizers of holiday drives around the country are making the best of a challenging situation and going all out to make their events a fun experience.
The Cleveland Police Foundation will have plenty of officers out in the street directing traffic on the day of the event, and Santa will make an appearance and will accompany a host of volunteer elves that will be helping out with the drop-off.
The event is being carefully planned out so that it will have the feel of a drive-thru Christmas party even while all participants remain safely socially distanced, said Jonathan Goldston and Jeff Zemito, both partners at the Skylight Financial Group and key organizers of the toy drive.
WKYC has signed on as a media sponsor for the drive-thru collection, along with other partners including Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, Steelyard Target, A Special Wish Foundation Cleveland, and Platform Beer Co.
Michelle Arch, client relations and operations manager at Skylight Financial Group, said it’s clear that the COVID-19 crisis has increased the number of families seeking assistance this year, so extra support is needed.
Retired Cleveland Police Capt. Keith Sulzer agreed, saying that 2020 has been an extremely stressful year and many people have been hit hard by COVID-19 or unemployment. Toy or cash donations will “help us help families in need and give them a merry Christmas and a happier New Year,” Sulzer said.
Toys should be dropped off unwrapped and unbagged. Great gift ideas include sports items like basketballs and soccer balls, dolls and action figures, toy cars, craft activities and hygiene kits for preteens and teens.
And if you don’t have time to shop, Arch added that financial donations can be made online to the Skylight Foundation until Dec. 8. She and the Skylight team will use the money to go shopping at Target in Steelyard Commons to buy items on wish lists for families referred by A Special Wish, which serves children facing serious health challenges. Please make sure to note “Cleveland Toy Drive” when making a donation.