The joy of giving a child their favorite toy inspired one Tempe resident to launch a holiday toy drive last year.
Emily Nelson, a program coordinator at Pyle Adult Recreation Center, started Pyle’s Christmas Toy Drive, which began Tuesday, to make sure disadvantaged parents could experience the same joy as she did when giving her daughter a new doll.
“It makes me really sad,” Nelson said. “The fact that some parents don’t get to do that for their kids.”
Nelson was turned down the first time she proposed the idea of a toy drive to her supervisor. She persisted and eventually partnered with the Tempe Community Action Agency, a local non-profit organization, to reach out to more people.
The TCAA has been running a holiday toy drive for the last seven years and it partnered with IKEA four years ago, said TCAA community and development coordinator Kathy Estrada.
The Pyle Center, located at Southern Avenue and Rural Road, is just one of hundreds of Valley locations to supply toys for the TCAA drive, Estrada said.
All the toys are delivered to IKEA on Dec. 9 and then a toy shop is set up near the food court for low-income parents to come choose a free present. The presents are even wrapped after the parents make a choice.
“I think there is a little more human contact with it,” Estrada said. “You see the parents shopping. You see the joy on their faces.”
While the toy store is not decorated in a holiday fashion, Tempe IKEA store manager Roberta Wierman said the toys add enough decoration themselves.
“The toys themselves overpower the impression of the area,” she said. “It’s just filled basically floor to ceiling in toys.”
Last year the Pyle Center collected 298 toys, one bike, 61 books, $180 in gift cards and $164 in cash donations that were used to buy toys for older children, Nelson said.
“I was so proud of it,” she said. “So, this year I plan to eclipse my numbers.”
Nelson said she plans to double last year’s donations, and hopes to receive some toy dolls. Even though her daughter’s dolls were the inspiration for the drive, not one doll was received at the Pyle Center last year.
For more information on donating, contact Emily Nelson at 480-350-5220.
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