Founded by Del Ray resident and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Willie Bailey, the organization has been collecting toys for families in need for more than two decades.
“This year we partnered with our sponsors to give away over 1,000 toys, 200 new coats, and over $800 in gift cards,” said Bailey, a member of the ACPS School Board. “We believe the need was much greater this year because of the economy.”
In addition to toys, children were able to select books provided by the nonprofit InspireLit. Among the volunteers assisting children with their choices was ACPS Acting Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt.
“I am so grateful for the outpouring of support from this community for all of our students,” Kay-Wyatt said. “We are here doing what we love. This community is our passion.”
Volunteer Eva Hartman enlisted St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub to assist with collecting coats for this year’s event.
“St. Elmo’s did not hesitate to help out,” Hartman said. “We collected coats at all three locations across the city.”
Volunteers included members of the Psi Nu chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, who were one of the sponsors of the toy drive.
“The support of our sponsors was certainly needed this year because we had a bigger demand for help than usual,” Bailey added. “But thanks to the generosity of so many, the children will all be receiving their holiday gifts. A special shout out goes to InspireLit, who donated more than 1,000 free books to deserving kids.”
Sponsors for the event include: Union Street Public House Restaurant; Chadwick’s Restaurant; Five Guys (Sam); InspireLit; Jack Taylor Alexandria Toyota; Psi Nu Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Capital Youth Empowerment Program; St Elmo’s Coffee Pub; Kelly’s Irish Times Restaurant (Brendan); Nationwide Credit Corporation; Energesco Solutions LLC; Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority; Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services; Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP); Michael & Sons Services, Inc.; Samuel Tucker Elementary School Staff; Alexandria City Parks and Recreation; Greene Funeral Home; and D & D Home Improvement Services.
“We wanted to provide some relief to local families by taking this one thing off their plate so they can concentrate on food, utilities and other things,” Bailey said. “We also know there are many refugee families in the area that need our support this holiday season.”
Added Kay-Wyatt, “Because of so many generous donors and volunteers in Alexandria, the children in our community have the opportunity to receive new toys, coats and books during this holiday season. It warmed my heart seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.”