BACK OF THE YARDS — With less than a week remaining to collect, sort and wrap donations, organizers of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council Toy Drive say they expect a frantic finish in the lead-up to their annual giveaway.
“The last week is the most hectic,” council staffer Fabiola Flores said. “We’re busy nonstop.”
First hosted almost a decade ago, the program provides presents to local children between ages 4 and 10. Once a small giveaway to about 100 in-need students, the effort has dramatically expanded due to the difficult economic circumstances facing many local families.
This year, Flores said the group plan to distribute toys to more than 2,000 children. While she’s hopeful that donations will adequately cover expenses, she admitted the community’s need has tested the organization’s capacity in recent years.
“The generosity is just amazing, but it’s still sometimes not enough,” she said.
Still, an early start by organizers has Flores feeling positive about the group’s ability to meet demand. So far in 2014, the council has seen an increased number of donations from individuals, small businesses and larger enterprises headquartered in the nearby Stockyards.
Organizing efforts for this year’s drive began in early November when council staffers contacted the principals of several nearby elementary schools to begin soliciting wish lists from children. Since then, staffers and volunteers have been busy collecting and wrapping donations.
Participating children and their families will be invited to a Winter Wonderland-themed event on Saturday. There, the children will meet Santa Claus and receive their requested gifts.
Flores said the hectic weeks of organizing are made worth it when children arrive for the giveaway wide-eyed at the elaborate holiday setup.
“We make that happen for kids in the community,” she said. “It’s very nice to see the kids waiting in line happy and excited.”
This year’s giveaway is scheduled to take place at Davis Square Park, 4430 S. Marshfield Ave. Information for neighbors looking to donate or volunteer is available at bync.org.
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