Not Playing Around: The Toy Party Shifts to Virtual

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

The annual Toy Party, hosted by For The Kid In All Of Us, has been the Holiday season’s highlight for many years. A one-of-a-kind event where you could donate literal heaps of toys and get together with your friends and chosen family before the Holidays. But, as with so many other significant events, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the organization to rethink their in-person fundraiser events completely, and as a result, this year, the celebration is virtual. Peach spoke to Board President Jeff Mayhew about overcoming the challenges and how For The Kid continues to help thousands of Georgia’s children in need this year. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work and mission of For the Kid?

 It has definitely been a challenging year for For the Kid in All of Us, as we are traditionally very interactive with in-person events around the community and typically work directly with our beneficiary groups and the children they represent. We’ve missed being able to have those in-person connections the most! However, I am extremely fortunate that each individual on our all-volunteer Board of Directors was proactive and creative enough to come up with unique solutions to overcome not being able to hold our Backpack in the Park and Toy Party events this year. As such, our work and mission did not have to be altered too much. Through hard work and the generosity of all of our donors and sponsors, we’ve still been able to help thousands of Georgia’s children in need this year.

The Toy Party – a Holiday highlight for many – is going virtual this year. Tell us about the decision to shift everything to virtual?

Like all of the other wonderful nonprofits in this city, we couldn’t wrap our heads around hosting a large-scale, in-person event this year with everything going on. As the year started, I honestly was in a little bit of denial about how long this pandemic would last, and even as we had to cancel Backpack in the Park in July, I still kept thinking, “ok, there may be a way we can still do Toy Party, but maybe a condensed version so that we can manage everyone’s health and well-being.” However, through the great courage and knowledge of my fellow Board members, we came to the conclusion in the fall that there was no way we could responsibly hold an in-person event. We knew we would have to do something virtual because this year, more than any in recent memory, families are hurting to pay their rent and afford food, let alone toys. The desire to help bring some sort of normalcy to a child’s life this holiday season has been what pushed us as an organization to find other ways to make it happen this year.

What initiatives are you taking to make the virtual Toy Party a stand-out event now that we can’t gather to celebrate in person? 

I think our biggest initiatives have really been reaching out more to the community to get them to collect toys for us this year—more so than we have in the past. We are really looking forward to the Toy Drop Off on Saturday, December 12th, from 12 pm-4 pm in the parking lot outside of Midtown Moon and all the neighboring businesses. We’re expecting a good turnout of people driving through and dropping off new toys for us to distribute to our beneficiary groups!

Spreading a little cheer: anyone you would like to highlight in making the Toy Party happen?

 None of our work would be possible without the hard work and sacrifice from the rest of our Board of Directors. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t have a shot out to all of our donors and sponsors, including those who helped us with Facebook fundraisers—making an extra special effort to help For the Kid in All of Us this holiday season.

Looking ahead, what aspects of your work do you think have changed forever in the light of a pandemic? What would you like to keep on doing even after it is over?

 Obviously, fundraising itself has changed and will be very virtual for the foreseeable future. But, I am hopeful that even in the new normal, people will still enjoy, and desire the opportunity to congregate and have a great time while making a difference in so many children’s lives.

The same goes for the Toy Party next year – do you think it will look and feel different post-pandemic (fingers crossed)?

We had some GREAT ideas for Toy Party this year, and we’re looking forward to bringing them to action in 2021 and bringing back one of Atlanta’s larger and longstanding holiday traditions. Assuming that the scientific community and our city leadership say it’s safe, I imagine we’ll be right back to getting back into the spirit again. My fingers are crossed!

 Anything else you’d like to share?

Just again, I want to say I’m so amazed at the generosity of all of our donors, sponsors, volunteers, and wonderful beneficiary organizations we’ve worked with over this past calendar year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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