Annual toy drive brings the holiday spirit to all


Photo courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons license

Donated toys will be distributed to children who may not be receiving any other gifts this holiday season.

Paris Ye, Features Writer

As the holidays approach, many kids are looking forward to the universal joy of unwrapping presents. However, not every child has this opportunity and are left without this satisfaction. The annual toy drive at RM, as part of the city of Rockville’s holiday drive, helps ensure that no children in our local community are left without gifts this holiday season.

For several years, RM has participated in this drive, raising hundreds of toys for families in need. As the head of the community service committee on the SGA executive board, junior Sarasi Gunasakera is responsible for helping organize the drive. Gunasakera said, “We’re helping out the city of Rockville in their toy supply drive to give students toys so they have something for Christmas instead of finding their tree empty.”

The city of Rockville’s holiday drive relies on the donations of individuals, churches, schools, civic organizations and other parts of our local community in order to make the drive successful. They collect toys at the City Hall or Rockville community centers and redistribute them to the families. Gunasakera said, “We send them to the city of Rockville, and they handle everything, but we know they go to children. So for those of you who are worried about us using them, we’re not using the toys, it’s all for children.”

This year, social studies teacher Todd Stillman’s fourth-period class won the toy drive and the subsequent prize of a pizza party. However, he says his class was incentivized by more than just winning. “It didn’t hurt that the winning class got a pizza party, but that wasn’t the main motivation. We wanted to help make sure that underprivileged children had a nice holiday season,” Mr. Stillman said.

People see donating toys, but they haven’t actually seen kids get it.

— Logan Turner-Mannix

Senior Logan Turner-Mannix, a student in Mr. Stillman’s fourth-period class, referenced their personal experiences as their motivation to contribute to the drive; these include their experiences volunteering, and the experiences of their mom, who grew up in poverty and qualified for similar drives.

Their recognized that others who did not have similar personal experiences may have lacked this motivation. “I feel like for a lot of people, it’s not personal enough; people see donating toys, but they haven’t actually seen kids get it. For people who have done volunteer work, they know what the outcome is, and they’re more likely to donate,” they said. 

The RM SGA has emphasized the fact that the toys the children are receiving could be the only ones they will receive for the holidays this year. As a result of this, they banned the popular Hot Wheel and Matchbox brand of vehicles, to encourage larger and more substantial toy donations. Toni Kellinger, the sponsor of the SGA stated, “We’re looking for good quality toys. I’d rather have 1 good quality toy than 10 cheap toys.”

However, Shayyan Ahmed, the freshman class president, specifically referenced this ban as a reason why the number of toys donated this year may have been disappointing. He also mentioned the recent number of drives, such as the canned food drive, the hurricane relief fundraiser and the supply drive as a reason people may have not donated. “I think other people didn’t donate because we’ve been asking a lot of our community for a while. This was also a big ask because we wanted quality over quantity,” he said.

Ms. Kellinger recognized that some are fatigued due to the large number of drives in the past few weeks. However, she stressed the importance of this drive and the effect it might have on the children who receive the toys: “I know we’ve had a lot of drives lately, but this [drive] is one we always do and [the city of Rockville] count[s] on us.”

Turner-Mannix believed that the number of drives was not the issue, but rather the ambiguity and lack of a clear effect shown from the recent drives. They said, “When the hurricane happened in Puerto Rico, a lot of people donated because they knew what was going on and which hurricane it was. I feel like if people knew more like, ‘Oh, these toy drives are going to this shelter specifically,’ [the drives] would feel more real, and you would feel like your actions are actually making more of a difference.”

Despite believing that the number of drives was overwhelming for the students, Ahmed still contributed to the toy drive and encouraged others to do the same. Ahmed said, “I donated because I really felt that this was one of the more important drives that we have. Especially since it’s local and it really puts a smile on children’s faces this Christmas.”