June 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The 29th Annual Bergen County Chanukah Toy Drive Needs Your Support More Than Ever

(Courtesy of BC Chanukah Toy Drive) This year, Chanukah begins on Sunday night, November 28, which is the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend. An early Chanukah poses a challenge for Toy Drive collections, as charities need the toys in hand by November 20, the latest. Getting people to think about Chanukah in October and early November is a challenge, but with the help of social media the word is getting out quickly. Shop early and bring your children with you! is their motto this year.

Covid has presented many challenges for the Toy Drive this year. The receiving charities have more recipients in need than ever before and many have had budget cuts due to the financial burdens that Covid has presented. In addition, actually getting toys is going to be a problem this year. Supply chain challenges have meant that some toy companies that have donated in the past, reported that they literally have empty warehouses this year and are awaiting their international shipments so they can’t donate as they have in the past.

The Bergen County Chanukah Toy Drive (BCTOYdrive) is an umbrella organization that collects new, unopened, unwrapped gifts from over 45 locations across Bergen County and Manhattan and distributes them to 18 worthy organizations locally and across the globe. The Toy Drive is a unique opportunity that brings together every sector of the Jewish Community. Schools, and synagogues of every Jewish affiliation participate in every aspect of the drive. From collecting the toys at their locations to sorting and packing those toys for later distribution at the main toy drive site, the volunteers both young and older, are the backbone of the drive.

Teaneck resident Marla Friedman founded the drive 29 years ago to encourage neighborhood children to get involved in chessed. This goal is still a priority with the organization. The drive sees the collection as an opportunity to teach children about tzedakah, chessed and achdut. When promoting the drive in our elementary schools the children are told that their donation, no matter the size, will put a smile on another childs’ face and that they, not their parents, make the best shoppers. Joy Sklar co-director with Dalia Stelzer says “With all that has happened in the past year, it’s nice to have a positive cause to bring us all together; from parents of preschoolers to teenagers to empty-nesters, everyone can get involved!”

The drive coordinates with the offices at local organizations like Project Ezrah, Tomchei Shabbos, Friendship Circle, Jewish Family Services (JFS) and others to ensure that each gift is appropriate for their clients. The drive enables different tzedakot, within our community as well as in others, to devote their funding to therapies and other overhead costs, letting the drive supply the gifts. The gifts help the recipient feel special. It lifts the spirits of those going through difficult times, and at the same time helps families feel the excitement of Chanukah.

Although Chaunkah is the best time for toy and gift collection, organizations have the choice of using the donations when it most benefits their clients throughout the year. An organizer at Sharsheret says, “The Bergen County Chanukah Toy Drive is an incredible community-wide initiative that contributes to Sharsheret’s Busy Box Program. The Busy Box includes a starter kit with games and activities tailored to the ages and genders of the children, to keep the kids occupied while their mom is at the doctor or resting after treatment.”

While most of the recipient organizations are Jewish, the drive also supports the Teaneck and Bergenfield PAL collections as well as the Center for Hope and Safety, a local women’s Shelter. They feel it’s important to give back to their local community as well.

Every member of the Jewish Community is invited to work together to ensure the success of this amazing endeavor. Although contributions are accepted at our sites through November 15th, toys can still be dropped off at our main locations until the holiday itself.

There are a variety of ways to donate to the drive. All day schools in Bergen County along with many Synagogues and Temples have drop-off sites. If you want a quick way to donate or you don’t know what to get, please visit www.bctoydrive.com for links to registries as well as a complete list of donating locations and receiving charities.

A nice opportunity for families whose bar/bat mitzvot are scheduled during this season is to donate to the drive by having creative centerpieces made from games or gifts that will be contributed to the BCtoydrive after the affair. Others have asked their guests to bring lego or another gift to drop off at the simcha. There have been families that have gone the extra mile and sorted and packed at the BCtoydrive’s central location as an act of chesed. Some bar/bat mitzvot teens have taken from their piles of duplicate gifts that inevitably end up in the return/re-gift pile, and donated some to the drive so that others can benefit from their kindness. And some have even run their own bake sales or raised money in other ways and then used their proceeds to buy toys for the drive.

Please note, that although there are many young recipients, there are teens and older members of group homes as well who benefit from the drive. Gift certificates to Target and Old Navy, make great gifts too! You can use your school scrip dollars to purchase gift cards benefiting your school and the drive. Ear pods. wireless headphones, pocketbooks, watches, jewelry, make-up kits, hat and scarf sets and intricate craft sets are also great options.

For more information, please visit their website at www.bctoydrive.com.

If you have any questions, are a high school student who would like to fulfill your chesed hours or you would like to help out please contact Joy Sklar at [email protected]

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