Get Involved: Making Spirits Bright

 In Culture, Feature

Make a donation to a local toy drive and help spread holiday cheer to children in St. Louis this season.


For underprivileged St. Louis families, the holidays are unfortunately like any other day; they may not have the means to purchase gifts for their children. Due to the staggering cost of treating an ongoing illness, job loss or just a tough economy, many families must focus on the basic necessities rather than toys for the kids. With the help of caring individuals and groups, the organizers of these three area toy drives hope to bring similes to the faces of St. Louis youngsters during the season of giving. Here’s how you can help.

Project ARK’s Holiday Gold for Kids
A division of the Washington University School of Medicine, Project ARK provides services for children, young adults, women and families affected by HIV disease. The center coordinates medical care, social support and prevention services. In addition to providing these vital services, Project ARK collects toys and funds for over 1,000 children affected by HIV/AIDS in the St. Louis Metro area during their annual Holiday Gold for Kids Toy Drive. Because the cost of medical care for these families is so profound, the toys donated to the drive are typically the only gifts these children receive for the holidays. You can help by providing a new, unwrapped toy for children 1-14 years of age; collecting gift certificates or making a monetary donation to assist organizing with toy-drive shopping or organize a toy drop-off at your workplace or child’s school classroom (

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
Toys for Tots, the philanthropic brainchild of Major Bill Hendricks, USCR, and his wife Diane, got its start in 1947. The first year, Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in L.A. collected and distributed 5,000 toys to children in need. With the pilot program’s success, the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign. To this day, the organization collects new toys for underprivileged children in the months of October, November and December so that they can experience the joy of the holiday season. Drop a new toy off at one of the dozens of sites listed on the organization’s local website, including Fox Theatre, Downtown Urgent Care and The Lifestyle Center. If you’re a business owner, contact Toys for Tots to become an official toy drop spot (

Children’s Hospital Wish List
Throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, Children’s Hospital of St. Louis needs specific items for various places throughout the hospital including their child life playroom, teen lounge, library and waiting areas. The Hospital’s Wish List includes musical toys, puzzles and multicultural dolls for the youngsters, and craft kits, gift cards, books and electronic handheld games for teens. Gifts should be new, unwrapped and safe for children. Whether a child is in the hospital for a couple of hours or for a few weeks, these gifts help bring hope, smiles and joy during their stay (


1118_469.jpgProject ARK’s Holiday Gold for Kids

1119_469.jpgChildren’s Hospital Wish List

1120_469.jpgChildren’s Hospital Wish List

1121_469.jpgChildren’s Hospital Wish List


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