There are more than 7,000 children in Orange County living in low-income households. The majority of these children have working parents that find it difficult to make ends meet. The holiday time can be especially stressful on these families as they try to provide winter clothing and gifts for their children.
The Orange County Department of Social Services partners with Balloons and Tunes, Kohl’s Department Store, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, First Book, Friends of Orange County DSS, and other businesses and community agencies to run the Orange County Toy Chest. The Toy Chest provides an opportunity for low-income parents to select two to three gifts per child to ensure that every child in Orange County has something to celebrate during the holidays. Parents can be referred from Social Services, churches, and other agencies that serve low-income families.
The Toy Chest is open to all Orange County residents with children at or below 200% of poverty. The program serves children age 18 and under, but focuses on children under age 12. Parents shop for gifts for their children at the Toy Chest just like shopping in a store. They are generally able to select 2-3 gifts per child including a variety of toys, books and clothing. This allows parent to select gifts based on their child’s age and interests. Non-perishable food items and some household items are also available to families. All Toy Chest gifts are new and are donated by businesses and community members or purchased with donated funds. The program is staffed by Orange County employees and volunteers.
Individuals, businesses and nonprofit groups can support the program in a variety of ways. Donations of new toys, books, articles of clothing, non-perishable food items and money are essential to the operation and continued success of the program. All donated funds are used to purchase toys, books, clothing and food at discounted prices through partnerships with area businesses. There are no overhead costs to the program.