La Salle University’s annual holiday toy and gift drive will look different this year due to the pandemic, but its mission remains the same: to provide holiday cheer to children from the Church of New Hope and Faith, located in Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood.
“We have parents in our community who are welfare recipients, and single-parent homes with more than one child,” said Sandra Wells, who serves as the assistant toy drive division coordinator for the Youth Council at the Church of New Hope and Faith. “It’s a struggle for them, especially around the holidays. There is a need in the community to make the holidays bright for these families.”
With La Salle’s Office of University Ministry, Support, and Service (UMASS) taking the lead, the La Salle community has partnered with the Church of New Hope and Faith’s Youth Council for the past 15 years to collect toys, clothing, and other gifts around the holidays.
In years past, La Salle faculty, staff, and students would purchase a gift for a child after selecting tags that had been hung on faux Christmas trees throughout campus. Each tag featured a child’s age and gender. This year, an Amazon wish list—featuring everything from winter gloves to a tabletop robot—has been created to keep alive the gift drive and extend holiday spirit to La Salle’s Northwest Philadelphia neighbors.
How to donate
You can select an item to purchase from the Church of New Hope and Faith Youth Department’s Amazon wish list. The deadline for purchasing gifts is Dec. 12, to allow ample time for delivery.
Monetary donations and gift cards are also being accepted. Email Regina Gauss Kosiek for information on how to contribute.
Approximately 65 children in the Mantua neighborhood, from infants to teenagers, are in need of a gift this holiday season. The deadline for purchasing gifts is Dec. 12, to allow ample time for delivery
Gift cards and monetary donations are also being accepted, said La Salle’s Director of University Ministry Regina Gauss Kosiek.
“If you look at the history of the Christian Brothers, you’ll see that there is always a feeling of change, reacting to the current moment,” said Gauss Kosiek, who coordinates toy drive efforts with the Church of New Hope and Faith. “I think that this is one of those times. We knew that there would be a need for a toy and gift drive this year, but we did not know what things would look like.”
And while the circumstances necessitating this year’s virtual toy and gift drive are not ideal, Gauss Kosiek sees a potential upside in going online.
“I think this opens up a way for us to think more broadly about the drive in the future, so that’s it’s not limited to people located physically on campus,” said Gauss Kosiek. “This allows us to reach our alumni in a different way. It could be a way for them when they are no longer on campus to participate and still be part of the La Salle community.”
For student volunteer Kelly Anders, who graduates this semester, La Salle’s partnership with the Church of New Hope and Faith has always represented the Lasallian values of community and service to others. And that hasn’t changed by going virtual.
“The toy and gift drive has always been a way of amplifying the Lasallian sense of community,” said Anders, ’20, who serves on the Fellowship of Community and University Service (FOCUS) leadership council. “These past months during the pandemic, I realized how much that community has meant to me, and how much this community can do for others. I think now more than ever, the toy drive represents the Lasallian values.”