Wellington Holiday Toy Drive Underway

The Village of Wellington is partnering with Wellington InterFaith and local businesses on the eighth annual Hometown Holiday Toy Drive.

The toy drive follows up on the recent Hometown Holiday Food Drive, where organizers asked the ages of children in families receiving food baskets for Thanksgiving.

“That’s what creates our toy drive list, along with any other people who call in or are nominated through their faith-based organizations,” said organizer Meridith Tuckwood, senior services specialist with the village.

The food drive served 207 families, which amounts to almost 1,000 people. It was the largest food drive so far, Tuckwood said.

“That means that we have 350 local children,” she said. “That means we have to have at least 700 toys. That doesn’t include any toys that we bring to the pediatric unit at Palms West Hospital, and we always visit those kids in the hospital for the holidays.”

Parents will be invited on Dec. 22 to St. Peter’s United Methodist Church to pick two items per child, and they will have the opportunity to have them wrapped at the event.

The effort also supports the Kids Cancer Foundation and HomeSafe, a program that works with abused children.

“We have partners that donate funds and collect toys for us,” Tuckwood said.

Sponsors include the Mall at Wellington Green, ARA Management, Jet Hauling Inc., Ultima Fitness, the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation, the Goddard School for Early Childhood Development and the Wellington Jingle Bell Run.

“Our sponsors help us to purchase anything that we don’t receive,” Tuckwood said. “The typical age that gets missed are the older kids, the 18-year-olds, so we partner with Walgreens for that, and we get basketballs and footballs and soccer balls, and then we also get gift cards from Walmart, so that if the child needs socks or underwear or a pair of shorts, they can do a one-stop shop over there. You can only have one gift card, and it must be for a child 15 or older.”

She anticipates they will need 800 to 900 toys this year.

“This is going to be one of our biggest because our food drive was the biggest it has ever been,” Tuckwood said. “We’ve got a lot of great partners working with us. InterFaith does a fantastic job. Our job at the village is to do the marketing, get the groups and help administratively, but they do the fundraising and they do the legwork. We get the volunteers through Volunteer Wellington, and they help us sort the toys the day before. It’s just a really great community effort.”

She is proud that the village has been successful over the years in taking care of those less fortunate in the community. “It shows that when we work together, and come together, we can accomplish many things,” Tuckwood said. “I hope that our community will rally again and recognize those less fortunate during this season of giving.”

Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at Village Hall (12300 W. Forest Hill Blvd.), Village Park (11700 Pierson Road), Ultima Fitness (12799 W. Forest Hill Blvd.), the Wellington Community Center (12150 W. Forest Hill Blvd.), the Neighborhood Services Office (1092 Wellington Trace), the Lake Wellington Professional Centre (12161 Ken Adams Way) and all Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue stations in Wellington.

For more information, call Tuckwood at (561) 753-2476 or (561) 310-3626, or e-mail mtuckwood@wellingtonfl.gov.