Twenty one years in the running, families start lining up as early as 3pm the day before for an opportunity to receive toys, clothing and groceries for the holidays. Now more than ever, Toys for Joy has become a tradition that San Diego families count on every December, meeting the needs of thousands.
“Toys for Joy represents the best of San Diego’s giving spirit. It brings together residents and neighbors from across our city to share in the joy of the holiday season and provide for those among us who are less fortunate,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “From toys to groceries to clothing and more, the lives of so many San Diegans are truly transformed through this community event and I am proud to see this effort continue to grow year after year.”
Toys for Joy is more than just a toy. Not only will children birth to 11 receive a free toy, but families will have the opportunity to receive free lunch, gently-used clothing (at the Lincoln site), groceries, haircuts, activities and more. Many volunteers, sponsors, and community partners work together to spread pervasive hope through this significant event.
Senator Joel Anderson said, “For the last few years that I’ve been part of Toys for Joy, I witnessed firsthand what our community is capable of when we take care of our neighbors in need. Pastor Miles and his team of energetic volunteers have made a significant different in our community through kindness.
In tough economic times, everyone needs hope. Of San Diego County’s 3.2 million residents, 486,000 people face food insecurity every day.* Of this number, 163,000 are children. Nearly 19 percent of San Diego County’s children are living in poverty, according to KidsData.org. An analysis of two Census Bureau surveys — one conducted between 2006 and 2010, and the other between 2011 and 2015— shows that the countywide poverty rate grew from 12.3 to 14.5 percent. That’s an increase of 94,000 people living on incomes below the poverty line, enough to fill two Petco Park Stadiums.*
During the holiday season, it is even more difficult for families to provide toys and clothing for their families without sufficient funds and resources. Toys for Joy brings hope by providing a toy, clothing, lunch and groceries to those in need. These toys are a way to change the lives of families in San Diego, and fulfill the main mission of the church to bring people together and transform the lives of San Diego by sharing the meaning of Christmas.
“More than ever, people need to step up and help those who are in need this year,” said McPherson. “Christmas is a time when God showed His love for us, and we’re ready to show God’s love in the communities where we live and serve. That’s the purpose of the church.”
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’7 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Matthew 25:35-40
Spread hope this Christmas to your community. Look at the needs of your community and how you can serve them. It might be doing a Christmas outreach event like giving a toy or giving away holiday meals. Make sure that you keep the focus on sharing the message of Christmas and what it means to have a relationship with Christ.
Partner with others. Don’t try and tackle it on your own! There are so many great organizations and churches that want can partner with your cause. Ask your friends, small group and co-workers to help you brainstorm businesses and groups that you can ask to partner with. Many businesses are able to partner with in-kind donations or services. Cast a vision of what you are trying to accomplish and give them specific ways that they can partner.
Pray! Ask God to guide and direct your outreach. Pray that He would soften the hearts of the attendees so that they would be open to a relationship with Him. Pray for volunteers to help serve and for needs to be met through partnerships and sponsorships. Ask God to impact your city for His kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit.