Santa’s coming to Downtown Phoenix as an annual toy drive hosted by Title One schools gives a Christmas miracle to students and their families with the help of UnitePHX.
UnitePHX, a non-profit organization, collaborated with Garfield Elementary school to help give new unwrapped toys and a Christmas experience to kids living in the Garfield School District. Kids receive one donated toy of their choice and an opportunity to eat churros, drink hot chocolate, meet with princesses, and say hello to Santa Clause.
UnitePHX’s executive director, Stephen Frank explained the event is an outreach for kids living in or below the poverty line welcoming not only the 600 enrolled students at Garfield, but family, friends, and the neighborhood as well.
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“There’s about 600 kids that go to Garfield elementary school but the number of kids that come out in attendance are normally about 1000 kids,” Frank said. “Because this is becoming bigger, a lot of the time it’s becoming its own brand. This year we’ve actually blown up quite a bit and we needed to.”
Garfield is not the only Title One school participating in the drive, three other schools host their own event, a number Garfield hopes to expand to 20 in the near future where the expansion of schools will call for a bigger number in toy donations.
“Last year we collected 4,000 toys and this year we’re expecting to collect 6,000 toys,” Frank said. “We need to collect at least 6,000 toys to be able to support all of these schools that we’re working with.”
Businesses and organizations throughout Phoenix and in the downtown area work with UnitePHX to help advertise the drive, fill individual boxes and encourage the community to participate in their own ways.
“I really have a heart to bring organizations together, I’m all about uniting, I just take great joy in it,” Frank said. “This is so important to the community, a lot of these families would not normally get a toy for Christmas.”
Dane Deary, owner of Capital Collision Repair donated around four to 500 toys last year and still continues to be the biggest supporter and contributor to the toy drive.
Deary created a separate room for the donated toys calling it “Santa’s Workshop” where every year he gets his employers involved and excited to give back.
“It’s a big deal to give back to kids who wouldn’t have been able to have a Christmas this year,” Deary said. “We’re called to give back.”
Patrick Boris, owner of Anytime Auto Glass contributed for the first time last year, something he plans to continue at his company, but through networking other businesses. Boris set out and provided 25 boxes to other businesses eager to participate, something Boris does every year.
“The best part about Christmas is giving not receiving,” Boris said. “Our company gives all year round, it’s a part of our culture.”
Boris shared that his family wanted to give back to the community; they canceled their own Christmas and decided to give back to those who hardly get to experience the magic of Christmas because they knew “God will provide.”
UnitePHX counted fifty businesses participating in this year’s drive while giving the community a bigger opportunity to donate in a way easiest for them.
UnitePHX set up an Amazon Wishlist and Facebook advertisement fund in hopes to collect enough money donations to provide toys for more than just Title One students. UnitePHX is expected to donate to other organizations that will give a new Christmas toy to refugee children, the navajo nations, and kids in foster care.
“If we have 1,000 people who can only give $10, that’s a lot of toys we can provide,” Frank said. “They go all over the place, wherever there are kids in need we generally are able to help support.”