Holiday Giving: A Big Pile of Toys for Tots

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As a family, we care deeply about the lives of others. We do our best, throughout the year, to support causes in which we believe with our time, money, voices and in-kind donations. But Christmas time has a special place in my heart, because I truly feel for the families that simply aren’t to provide any holiday magic for their children. For some kids, it’s just a reality that they’ll wake up on Christmas morning with no visit from Santa, no gifts and possibly nothing at all to differentiate it from any other day of the year.

I don’t think the holidays should be all about the gifts, but I do believe that every child should be able to experience a little bit of the excitement and magic that Christmas brings. That’s why each year, we try to make at least a donation to either Toys for Tots or to a specific family in need. This year, a $100 shopping allowance from Walmart has helped our donation go a lot further.

We started off with a box full of toys that we’d collected throughout the year for this purpose:

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Some were items received through blogging engagements that were not used, and others were items we’d bought, but never opened. It was a great start, but we always hope that we can do more. Enter the $100 shopping allowance.

Normally when I’m working within a budget, I try to purchase as many gifts as I can for as little money as possible. This year, though,  I chose to focus on quality rather than quantity and to focus on gifts for older kids. In years past, organizations have repeatedly asked for gifts for older kids, as they regularly come up short in that area. Let’s face it: Babies, toddlers and younger kids are easier — and less expensive — to shop for. Secondly, while inexpensive gifts are better than none at all, I knew that kids in need would have some of the same items on their wish lists as other kids, including video games, eReaders, etc.

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Here’s what we bought to try to help fill those gaps:

  • VTech V.Reader: $39.96
  • Loopz memory game: $17 on clearance
  • Hedbanz game: $8.97
  • Doctor dress up set: $13.88
  • Pony Trainer Barbie: $12.88
  • Skateboard: $14.96

TOTAL: $107.65

I miscalculated as I was adding everything up and didn’t realize I’d gone over budget until it was time to pay at checkout, but I’ve never been so happy to make that mistake. Because of it, and our stockpiling of gifts throughout the year, we were able to help give a wonderful Christmas to kids who otherwise might not have one.

The office of our apartment complex is actually a Toys for Tots donation drop-off site, so we delivered the toys there.

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If you are a person in need, please know that there are organizations — and people — more than willing to help you and your family during this time of year. And if you are among those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to provide for our families, please consider giving in some way, whether it’s a donation of toys, money, time or a kind word or help to a stranger.

DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with $100 gift card to help with my holiday giving, along with compensation for sharing my efforts with you. Participation is voluntary and, as usual, all opinions are my own.

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