As sleigh bells begin to ring, Upper East Siders can give back to the community by donating toys to families in need, with just a few easy clicks. UES Mutual Aid’s third annual toy drive is kicking off, collecting play sets and figurines to make sure every child can feel the holiday cheer.
“It’s a way for us to show a sense of abundance to kids,” said Patrick Boblin, one of UES Mutual Aid‘s lead organizers. He explained that a lot of the abundance in the city doesn’t often “trickle down” to children. The toy drive “allows us to share who we are, and that there is an excess in our community, with kids and with families.”
Neighbors can visit the UES Mutual Aid’s Amazon wishlist, and choose from 150 Lego sets, music toys, and art kits, as well as Dinosaur Pull Back Cars and Candy Land board games. All toys retail for under $20, with several under $10.
Once you’ve chosen what you wish to donate, select ‘Patrick Bobilin’s Gift Registry Address’ under the ‘other addresses’ section and proceed to checkout as normal.
On December 23rd, the organization will put on a volunteer-staffed ‘free toy store’ at the Church of the Holy Trinity, at East 88th Street between First and Second Avenues, where parents can bring their children aged four to 12 to ‘shop’ for a gift.
Bobilin’s most treasured memories of the holiday toy drives are “when a kid comes in with an initial wide-eyed excitement seeing the abundance of toys, and then has a tough time deciding which they want because we’ve got enough good options because the community has donated so much.”
In years past, UES Mutual Aid has received so many donations that some leftover toys were donated to the church’s own collection, though it’s never been more than a few.
“We’ve always sort of closed up shop early because we’ve run out of toys,” Bobilin said.
UES Mutual Aid, which performs other initiatives like street clean-ups, snow shoveling, and bread handouts, aims to connect those in the neighborhood with each other to provide long-term solidarity and a helping hand.
“There are a lot of ways that this network has helped people and will continue to help people,” the Upper East Sider explained.
Donations are being accepted until December 10th, so click here to browse the wishlist.
“I just hope that families of all backgrounds not only contribute but also come by,” Bobilin said. Neighbors and kids of all ages can volunteer as ‘elves’ to serve juice, donuts and coffee to those coming to shop. To sign up as a volunteer, message UES Mutual Aid on Instagram.
Bobilin stressed that there’s no better way to have an impact in your community than to engage with a UES Mutual Aid Initiative.
“It’s my favorite community experience of the year.”