Orange County’s Holiday Heroes Toy Drive has grown into a highly anticipated event for its employees, volunteers and the extended community in Central Florida. As a part of caring for some of Orange County’s most precious residents, the Toy Drive aims to make the season brighter for children and families in need.
Since its inception in 2011, more than 39,200 toys have been collected and distributed to families across Orange County. This year, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings surprised three families during a holiday-shopping event at the Ivey Lane Neighborhood Center for Families (NCF) located near the Washington Shores neighborhood where Mayor Demings grew up.
Run by Orange County Government, the 13 NCFs are a collaboration of area public schools, government agencies, churches, grassroots organizations and nonprofit service providers that offer assistance to families and children in Orange County. During the holidays, NCF service providers help identify local families with the greatest need and refer them to participate in the annual toy-shopping events. All NCFs in Orange County hosted shopping events this year.Other Toy Drive beneficiaries include Orange County Public Schools’ Homeless Program, Wraparound Orange, United Against Poverty Orlando, Orlando United Assistance Center and Toys for Tots.
This year, Orange County employees and local residents generously donated more than 4,200 gift items for children up to 18 years of age.
Upon arrival, Mayor Demings spoke with parents, escorted them through the Gingerbread House themed shopping experience and helped them pick out the perfect toys for their children. Along with the gifts, each family received a box filled with food items for holiday meals.
“Our employees and volunteers have worked tirelessly to sort, count and distribute thousands of toys to families who might need extra help this holiday season,” Mayor Demings said. “This direct connection to our local families allows children in our community to enjoy the holidays and the season of giving.”
Planning for the Holiday Heroes Toy Drive often starts in the summer, with some employees and local organizations collecting toys throughout the year. For more information about the Orange County Holiday Heroes Toy Drive, visit www.OCFL.net/HolidayHeroes.