Stocking the Holiday Toy Room
written by Katie Jackson
Each December, as thousands of children in Summit County write out their wish lists to send to the North Pole, there are hundreds of children in our communities whose wish lists include something more than toys: safety, stability, family, a home. These are the children and families served by Summit County Children Services (SCCS).
SCCS is an agency that provides services for abused and neglected children in our communities. In any given month over 585 children meet the criteria for agency intervention. Case workers partner with families to provide the best outcome for a child to be reunited with their immediate family or placed in kinship care with extended family members. When there are no relative placement options for a child, alternative housing in foster care or permanent custody through adoption is the next best substitute.
While there are many ways SCCS works to create a sense of normalcy for children under its care, one way the community at-large can help them create positive memories is by donating to the Holiday Toy Room and Adopt-A-Family programs.
The Holiday Toy Room is a place for foster parents and kinship caregivers to “shop” for children in their care, free of charge. Donated toys and gifts are given a point value and sorted into age group by infant, school-age and teen. In addition to items that are “shopped” for, every child is given “zero point” items such as books, puzzles, school supplies and stocking stuffers.
Over her 26 years at SCCS, community relations manager Sandy DeLuca has created a mission for the Holiday Toy Room program.
“I want to ensure that every child has gifts under their tree on Christmas morning,” says DeLuca. “No child should ever wake up without anything underneath their tree.”
DeLuca’s mission is making a difference. Last year over 1,300 children were recipients of gifts from the Holiday Toy Room, an increase of 23 percent from 2013. Items that are in the greatest need are toys for infants (birth to 18 months old) and teenage boys. Toys and games for popular movies such as “Star Wars,” “Minions,” “Frozen,” “Inside Out” and “Avengers” are also in high demand.
SCCS also seeks donors to participate in the Adopt-A-Family program for the holiday season. Each year approximately 580 children are “adopted” by community groups, businesses and individuals, who are given a wish list of items that have been requested by a specific child in the program. Donors purchase and wrap the gifts, which are delivered personally to the children’s home by agency social workers.
Because the holiday programs are completely donation-based and the need is ever growing, SCCS never knows ahead of time whether the demand for the season will be met.
“For the past three years we have been very blessed with generous donors in our community,” says DeLuca.
Donations can be dropped off seven days a week between 9 am – 8 pm through December 18 at the front desk of Summit County Children Services, located at 264 S. Arlington Street in Akron. Volunteers are also needed to sort donations and staff the Toy Room, which is open between December 2 – December 23. Please contact Sandy DeLuca at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-379-1994 for more information.
Infants & Toddlers
Baby dolls (all ethnicities)
Large size cars and trucks
New stuffed animals
Infant care items
Cloth or board books
Dolls (all ethnicities)
Tweens & Teens
Brightly colored slippers
Ear buds and flashdrives
Speakers (to connect to phones)
Electronics of any kind, under $25 (portable CD, DVD and MP3 players)
Sports jerseys (L & XL)
Gift Cards (teen-favored stores, fast food restaurants)