Ravenswood toy drive a success thanks to local businesses and neighbors
Just as it has for the last five years, the local community has come through in a big way to provide toys and gift cards for the students of the Ravenswood City School District (RCSD). This year the need was greater than ever: 1,750 Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 8th graders who have faced a tough year due to the pandemic and the shift to distance learning. But even with the challenges, the Ravenswood Education Foundation (REF) was determined to give families a way to choose gifts for the holidays.
And they did it — with lots of help! Scores of community volunteers rallied their neighbors, donated funds, collected and sorted toys, and helped distribute them. Anna Chow and Cheeky Monkey staff (pictured right) curated and managed toy sales and pickup for many residents who were committed to shopping local while they supported the toy drive.
One such community member was Facebook, which sponsored all of the district’s TK and Kindergarteners, through Cheeky Monkey. “Facebook aims to build community and respond to community needs — especially here in the Bay Area,” said Ashley Quintana, Public Policy Manager at Facebook. “This holiday season, in the midst of a difficult year, Facebook and its employees are excited to provide toys to kids while supporting an amazing local business.”
Venture capital firm Accel-KKR was another big supporter via Cheeky Monkey, where employees purchased toys from a custom wish list. The company, along with the Silicon Valley Youth organization, also contributed Target gift cards, which the holiday drive provided to each and every middle schooler. Other local organizations who made significant monetary, toy, and transportation contributions to the toy drive include Finxera, Grace Presbyterian Church, PwC and the local chapter of Toys for Tots.
Of course, none of it could have happened without the efforts of RCSD principals and staff who worked to create safe distribution events at each school. At Belle Haven (top photo and above), for example, grade levels were spread out over several days and students and their families walked through an outdoor toy store. While at Costaño, the event was a drive through, with parents viewing the toys from the car, then giving “toy orders” to volunteers who fulfilled them.
In all, the event collected and distributed more than 2,000 toys in the course of a month. Reflecting on the incredible partnership, REF Operations Manager Jazmin Sosa says, “It brings joy to have been a part of such a large community effort. Our students deserve the best, and this holiday season, thanks to hundreds of individuals and community partners, they were given that opportunity. Seeing our students filled with excitement as they chose their holiday present was the best gift in itself.”