Toys have an incredible job. They are the tools that are used for cognitive and physical development and other skill-building functions necessary for a healthy childhood. They are building blocks that help form the foundation for a lifetime of learning, creativity, problem-solving and independent play.
Unfortunately, some children don’t have access to toys. In fact, according to the Indiana Youth Institute, the state continues to rank 29th
in the nation for overall child well-being. The full impact of poverty isn’t completely understood, but the research shows there are definite gaps in mental well-being and social and emotional health for kids.
Fortunately, for the last 22 years, the Annual YMCA Toy Drive-spearheaded by Chris Tolliver has provided over 58,000 children with at least two toys during the holiday season.
Chris was recently recognized for his community work by Indianapolis Councillor La Keisha Jackson. Councillor Jackson represents District 14 and has devoted a large share of her work towards disadvantaged and at-risk youth and families.
This year Councillor Jackson initiated Proposal No. 225 which recognized Chris for his outstanding work to establish the Annual YMCA Holiday Toy Drive Program that has served the community for the past 22 years. Every year Chris has played an integral role in collaborating with more than 25 organizations to collect toys and resources to serve families during the holiday season.
Proposal No. 225 was introduced and presented to Chris on July 10, 2023, and was resolved by the City-County Council of the City of Indianapolis and of Marion County, Indiana and signed by Indianapolis Mayor, Joe Hogsett.
According to Chris, “More importantly, it’s about making a difference and serving the community. Receiving recognition helps spread the word that the need in the community is great, but the YMCA is here to help.”
The Toy Drive brings tremendous joy to the families served and also to the volunteers. Family members always express a spirit of relief and gratitude knowing that they will be able to provide gifts to their children for the holidays. And, although a lot of hard work is involved, volunteers enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor through the big smiles on the faces of children and parents.
“It’s not easy. It takes dedication, commitment and a great team of passionate people to pull this off. Strong relationships in the community are key. Without our sponsors, community advocates and volunteers there would be no Toy Drive. Having a support team that believes in what you are doing is everything,” adds Chris.
This year’s Toy Drive will be no different. Hundreds of families will receive brand-new toys and gifts from donors around the community. For more information about the YMCA Holiday Toy Drive, to learn about volunteer opportunities or to donate, please visit https://indymca.org/events/toydrive/