Thanks to nearly 300 local toy industry volunteers who rolled up their sleeves a few days ago (June 8) at the annual Play Your Part LA event hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) in partnership with National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA). thousands of children in foster care throughout Southern California and across 10 states received the gift of nearly 50 toy companies that participated in the event through either a toy donation, sponsorship, or volunteer effort including Bandai, Educational Insights, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, Nickelodeon, and Spin Master.
Industry-wide volunteers sorted toys and wrote comforting letters of support at inspiration stations. These toys and letters were placed in special care packages that are now being shipped to 50 National CASA chapters.
Totally, more than 60,000 toys were donated in order to make this event possible thanks to TIF’s Toy Bank donors who comprised of generous manufacturers, retailers and distributors.
About 100 LA-area foster children were present at the event to receive action figures, arts and crafts, board games, dolls, puzzles, and more. They also enjoyed fun-filled, company-sponsored activities and games led by the volunteers.
The special day included a live DJ that kept volunteers hard at work and a sponsored lunch. CASA volunteers were also on-site to answer questions about the foster care system. The event location was generously donated by Beverly Hills Transfer and Storage and SmartBox, which also provided considerable resources.
“Children in foster care have to face very grown-up problems at such a young age, robbing them of a carefree childhood,” says Jean Butler, executive director of the Toy Industry Foundation.
“It is our hope that the toys provided through this event bring comfort and happiness to these deserving children as they await placement in loving, permanent homes,” she said.
According to the Administration for children and families, 2016 marked the third consecutive year that the number of children in foster care increased by an average of 3.4 percent, with more than 650,000 children entering the U.S. system.
Studies show that youth in foster care are more likely to be incarcerated, encounter substance abuse, struggle academically, and have developmental, mental, and physical challenges.
Since partnering with National CASA in 2013, the Toy Industry Foundation has provided $3.5 million in toys to benefit 350,000 foster children served by National CASA programs.
Additionally, the Foundation has provided $1 million in grant funding to National CASA, enabling them to recruit and train needed CASA volunteers to stand up for the needs and rights of abused and neglected children.
The Toy Industry Foundation works year-round with partners and international charities to bring new toys and games to children who are impoverished, at-risk, in hospitals, in military families, and otherwise in need. To date, the Foundation has provided more than $200 million in toys to 23 million children in need.
The event’s specialty sponsors included Nickelodeon, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, and Munchkin.