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January Spotlight on Service - the Eleventh Grade Coordinators of the Christmas Toy Appeal

The first Spotlight on Service of the new year features six Upper School students – Sophie, Soph, Ore, Sophie, Ella, and Danielle (Grade 11) – and their coordination of a Toy Drive to support the Addlestone Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Toy Appeal.

The students worked throughout the autumn to prepare for the Toy Drive and to educate the Upper School community on the services the Addlestone Salvation Army provides in the local community.  Here, they tell us about their collaboration.

What kinds of services does the Addlestone Salvation Army provide to the community?

The Addlestone Salvation Army provides many services to the community, such as engaging the youth in community-based programs, arranging resources for families, creating a food security campaign, providing accommodation and night shelters, supporting those who have recovered from addiction, offering practical advice, and much more. 

What is the Christmas Toy Appeal?

The Christmas Toy Appeal is an annual initiative that started in 2018. It is a source that parents can use to relieve some of the stress of providing gifts for their family during the holidays. Over 60,000 donations have been made since this appeal was first launched, and the goal was to make it to 100,000 donations this year. With Covid-19 impacting many families economically, this appeal helps by giving children the joy of opening presents from under the tree on Christmas. 

What are the ages of the children served by the Christmas Toy Appeal?

The ages of the children served by the Christmas Toy Appeal are babies to 17-year-olds. The gifts range from board games and plush toys to gift cards and books. Parents served by the Addlestone Salvation Army are able to then visit the center and select gifts for their children, creating a more personal and fulfilling experience. Due to Covid-19 restrictions last year, Salvation Army volunteers delivered gifts to each family’s home, but this year they were able to once again invite parents to the center to select the gifts for their children.

How did you coordinate and promote the Christmas Toy Appeal in the Upper School?

We first reached out to Dr. Norris, and when she told us about the Christmas Toy Appeal we knew it would be an important job. After deciding on the collection dates, we advertised a lot, trying to spread the word on this important appeal through social media, posters, and an email to the whole student body. Students donated many items, including stuffed animals, books, games, toys, crafts, and toiletries. The wide range of items donated allowed the parents to have more options in choosing gifts for their children. We organized a competition between the grades in the Upper School for the most donations, with the winning Grade 11 receiving a TASIS Spirit Wear Day this month.

What led you to become involved in this initiative? 

Our initial interest in joining this initiative was because Christmas has always been an incredibly important time of the year for us, and this toy drive was an opportunity to give something back to the community and to the youth, who would otherwise not have the same Christmas experience as so many other children around the country. The most rewarding part of participating in this project is knowing that no one missed out on Christmas and that we have brought joy to children by them being able to open a present from under their tree. 

If you were not able to participate in the Christmas Toy Appeal at TASIS this year or even just want to give a little more, there are still other ways to give back to our local community, such as by donating items to the Addlestone Salvation Army Charity Shop year round.