On June 16th I met up some of my fellow toy people at an airy warehouse in Compton to organize and wrap toys for children in foster care. CASA of Los Angeles and the Toy Industry Foundation organized the event, aptly called “Play Your Part L.A.” It was a lot of fun. Not only did I spend an enjoyable morning helping to pack huge shipping crates with toys destined to surprise kids all over California, I also bumped into numerous ex-coworkers and friends in the toy world. The event reminded me how great it feels to volunteer for a good cause.
Toy People at “Play Your Part L.A.”
Each volunteer received a bright red “Play Your Part L.A.” T-shirt to wear for the day. They must have given out over a hundred T-shirts because there were a lot of us. I was really proud to see so many toy people donating their time and energy to help kids in need.
The Big Toy Companies Played Their Part Too!
I was invited by Women in Toys, a national community of women working in the play industry, but just about every major toy company in the L.A. area was represented in the crowd. Not only did they encourage their employees take a day off to help out, they also donated all the toys. One of the organizers told me we packed up and moved 70,000 toys!
Volunteers from nearly 30 toy companies— including Bandai, Educational Insights, Funrise, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, Spin Master and The Walt Disney Company — helped to sort, wrap and pack toys for 25,000 foster care children in Southern California and seven additional states. Additionally, hundreds of LA-area foster children were on-site at the event to receive dolls, games puzzles, arts & crafts and other skill-building playthings. All toys were donated by generous manufacturers and retailers to TIF’s Toy Bank with the goal of providing comfort to children awaiting placement in loving, permanent homes. Nearly 50 participating toy companies helped make this event possible through sponsorships, toy donations and/or volunteers. – Toy Industry Foundation website
I didn’t go to the event alone. Fellow freelancer Mario Gesualdi took the day off from making doll clothes to help pack crates and box toys too.
Toys, Toys, and More Toys
At the end of a few hours of packing and wrapping a whistle blew and we all crowded up around a small stage. Several dozen local foster children joined us at the warehouse to pick out their toys, eat popcorn and have their faces painted. I wish I could share some photos because it was so cute watching them pick out their toys, but we were asked not to in order to protect their identity. I was able to take a photo of the mounds of toys. Check it out!
I honestly can’t wait for next year!