Many organizations conduct holiday toy drives. All are worthy.
But few do it with as tight and clear a focus on their recipients as Norwalk’s Toys for Tots.
The effort — which draws many volunteers from Westport, with several drop-off points here (see list below) — is like many: Folks donate gifts for children who otherwise would not receive them. Last year, they provided over 6,000 toys to nearly 3,300 children in Norwalk, Fairfield and Westport.
But — with help from director Liz Ward — the effort includes an equity, diversity and inclusion initiative.
“We want all children to know that they matter, are included, and are represented, not subliminally and systematically marginalized through the toys, language and packaging on their gifts,” Ward says.
As a female minority from a white Fairfield County family, she adds, “I know all too well what it feels like to grow up in and between multiple races, languages and cultures.”
Last year, Toys for Tots received hundreds of books — all in English. That’s not what is spoken in the homes of many of the gift recipients. Spanish and Haitian Creole are, after English, the 2 most popular languages in Norwalk.
So — to help all children feel proud of who they are, and identify with the gifts they receive, with words they understand — Toys for Tots seeks books in those languages. They look too for gifts with not only white faces on the packages.
Suggestions include board books and soft books for babies, children and those 12 and up; teethers; soft toys; backpacks; puzzles; sensory toys; stomp rockets; blankets; water bottles; electronics (Bluetooth speakers, headphones, chargers); hat, glove and scarf sets; cosmetic bags, and slipper socks.
You get the idea.
Give generously this holiday season. Every gift shows you care. But some show you care not just about a child who receives it, but the child.
Westport drop-off locations include Amis Trattoria, Awesome Toys & Gifts, Barnes & Noble, Honda of Westport, Kindred Spirits, Northwestern Mutual, Performance Physical Therapy, The Residence @ Westport, Richiez Beauty Bar @ Sola Salon, Serendipity Labs, The Toy Post, Via Sforza, W Hair & Color, Webster Bank, William Pitt Sotheby’s and Willows Pediatrics. The drop-off deadline is December 6.
For more information, click here; email firstname.lastname@example.org; call 203-244-6256, or follow @NorwalkTFT on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter.