Thousands of foster children throughout Southern California were given the magic and joy of play, thanks to the generous support of more than 50 participating toy companies and 250 local toy industry volunteers brought together today by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA) at TIF’s annual “Play Your Part” event.
Volunteers from nearly 30 toy companies—including Bandai, Educational Insights, Funrise, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, Spin Master and The Walt Disney Company—helped to sort, wrap and pack toys for 25,000 foster care children in Southern California and seven additional states. All toys were donated by generous manufacturers and retailers to TIF’s Toy Bank, with the goal of providing comfort to children awaiting placement in loving, permanent homes. Nearly 50 participating toy companies helped make this event possible through sponsorships, toy donations and volunteers.
Hundreds of Los Angeles-area foster children were also on-site to receive the donated dolls, games puzzles, arts & crafts and other skill-building playthings. With an excess of 30,000 children in the system, Los Angeles County has more children in foster care than any other county in America.
“Childhood should be all about enjoying the pure magic of play—but many kids in the foster care system have to face very grown-up problems at such a young age,” said Jean Butler, executive director of the Toy Industry Foundation. “It is our hope that in sharing these toys with them, these kids feel comforted knowing that they have not been forgotten.”
Maria Gonzalez, office manager at Educational Insights, is volunteered at the event with colleagues and industry friends.
“At Educational Insights, we’re play enthusiasts so we aim to create experiences for all children filled with joy and laughter,” said Gonzalez. “Participating in this event gives us the opportunity to spread the love of play to children who may need a healthy dose of it. Play allows us to get lost in the sheer joy of the moment where nothing else matters, and we are privileged to give this gift to children in foster care.”
The partnership between the Toy Industry Foundation and National CASA began in 2013. To date, TIF has distributed more than 225,000 toys to foster children served by CASA programs. In addition, grant funds provided by TIF to National CASA’s member network have helped to recruit and train needed CASA volunteers to stand up for the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected.
“National CASA envisions a world where an abused or neglected child is given the opportunity to thrive in a safe, loving and permanent home,” says Tara Perry, chief executive officer of the National CASA Association. “The Toy Industry Foundation helps us speak up on behalf of vulnerable children who have experienced unspeakable trauma and tragedy. Our partnership with TIF enables these children to feel joy, comfort and hope-and to receive support from a caring, consistent adult volunteer. We are thrilled at the success of TIF’s “Play Your Part” event.”
The Toy Industry Foundation works year-round with partners and international charities to bring new toys and games to children who are underserved, at-risk, in hospitals, and in military families. To date, TIF has provided more than $130 million in toys to 19 million children in need.