Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Double Duty Divas for Old Spice. All opinions are 100% my own.
There is a special place in my heart for any kind of social good campaign. I grew up very blessed, not needing or wanting for anything. This did not take away my appreciation for what I had. My children are also truly blessed, not because they have me for a Mama, but because they are fortunate to have a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and clothing on their backs.
These very basic necessities are far too often overlooked and under-appreciated for “materialistic” items. I call this First World Problems. Far too many children in the world, many in our own backyard, have to go without the most basic necessities in life. If I can change one life, even if it is just to help put one smile on a little face, sign me up, I am there.
When I was given the opportunity for a chance to work on the Old Spice #HoliSPRAY campaign to collect gently used toys to be given to a local charity I almost fell out of my chair. Let’s just say its a really good thing that I wasn’t standing. My mission, should I choose to accept it (I think you already know the answer to that one!) was to set up a private or public used toy exchange in my community. Each family that donated a gently used plastic toy(s) would receive in exchange an Old Spice Re-fresh Body Spray in the Timber scent as a small token of appreciation from Old Spice. I dubbed it the #GiveAndGet.
Old Spice collaborated with Second Chance Toys to find a local charity to be the benefactor of the toy drive. For my collection the toys were to be delivered to the Miami Rescue Mission, specifically the Center for Women and Children. The children at the center do not have a place to call home, much less any toys. These are families that are more concerned over where their next meal will come from. Can you picture your own children not having any toys?
I partnered with two very awesome local community organizations, The City of Sunny Isles Beach Cultural and Human Services Department and The Gan Montessori Preschool, a project of the Chabad Russian Center of South Florida. I provided The City of Sunny Isles Beach CHS director Susan flyers to hand out to all the after-school attendees, designating a day and time that I would be present at their location for the public HoliSPRAY toy exchange. I also provided the flyers to The Gan to be distributed to the families of the school children, informing them of the private week-long collection taking place outside the directors office.
On the evening of my public toy collection, Wednesday, December 10th, the night was off to a slow start. Honestly, I was starting to get worried that no one was going to show up. Some parents walked by on their way to pick up their children apologizing that they had forgotten the event would be taking place. And then a little boy wandered over to my table. He asked if he could have one of the candy canes from the basket I had placed on the table to give to the children that donated toys. When I explained to him what they were I noticed a sad look come across his face. Heartbroken, I started to reach for a candy cane to give to him when he suddenly popped open his book-bag and pulled out a small superhero toy. He said “Can I donate this toy to one of those children?”. And cue the tears…this little guy was now MY superhero. He got two candy canes, and I told him to come back over when his guardian arrived so I could give them a #SmellcomeToManhood gift too.
And then the toys started coming in…bags were being dropped off at the front desk, parents were arriving at my table, more little boys and girls produced toys from their book-bags. It was the children that were willing to donate their favorite toys, the ones that they carried around with them to school, that really touched my heart. Some parents were genuinely upset that they had forgotten about the toy drive and arranged with me to drop off toys at my home. Others promised to drop them off at the center the following day if I could come back and collect them, of course! And so the night ended ever so nicely with an outpouring of community support for children they didn’t know and will never meet, but clearly have a special place in their heart for.
I was asked to collect at least 50 gently used toys. I was determined to do better than that, setting a goal of 150! And with that I printed more flyers and went door to door on a few blocks in my neighborhood handing out flyers. I left a red bin outside my front door with a flyer attached instructing people to please leave their donations in the bin. One day went by and the bin was still empty, the next day went by and still an empty red bin sat lonely on my front stoop. On the third, and final date I had placed on the flyer, while I was out running errands my babysitter texted me, “Where you expecting someone to drop something off?” I explained to her about the HoliSPRAY bin and she told me that a car had pulled up, dropped off a bunch of bags with toys at the door and just left. No note, no knock, just bags of toys.
I told her to just leave everything where it was or put it in the bin. She insisted on bringing the bags inside. It wasn’t until I arrived at home that I understood why she wanted everything brought in. There were at least 10 shopping bags filled with BRAND NEW toys. Side note: Dear Anonymous Donor, THANK YOU! Wow, just wow! Ugh, there go the tears again. The toy collection continued at The Gan through the following Monday. Papa picked up Em from school that day and returned home with three big garbage bags filled with toys! A big THANK YOU to my fellow GAN parents for your generous donations, and an even bigger THANK YOU to our sweet Director Chaya for handling the exchange, not that she needed more work on her plate.
I am truly touched by the support of our local community and I want to express a heartfelt thank you to everyone that donated toys. Looking through some items I have received through the year from companies I’ve worked with like Hallmark, Fat Brain Toys and VTech, I plucked some brand new toys that I was saving for my own children to be donated as well. I gathered up some gently used toys as well and added those to the pile.
As I was sifting and sorting through all the toys I was truly overwhelmed by the amount that was collected. While I did not get to count them all, I was with Em for several days in the hospital that week with RSV, I estimated well over 200 toys. All totaled there were 5 medium-sized bins and 1 extra-large bin, plus a few bigger items that didn’t fit in the bins like some toy shopping carts and a tricycle.
I arranged a day and time to drop of the HoliSPRAY toys to the Miami Rescue Mission for the end of the week as soon as Em was discharged. All the new toys were separated from gently used toys per their request. The news toys would be added to the 6,000 plus toys to be handed out during their Christmas party event on Christmas Eve. The gently used toys would be used at the Women and Children’s Center. I learned that the bins would be laid out in an open room and the children would be allowed to select toys to play with during their stay at the Miami Rescue Mission.
I just want to thank everyone involved, the kind donors, Double Duty Divas, Old Spice HoliSPRAY, Second Chance Toys, Miami Rescue Miami, The Gan Montessori Preschool and The City Of Sunny Isles Beach Cultural and Human Services Department.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Double Duty Divas for Old Spice. All opinions are 100% my own. I received product samples like the ones mentioned above, with additional compensation, for hosting the HoliSPRAY toy exchange event and sharing this post. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.