Elizabeth Morales is heading up a small team of staff at the Coalition for the Homeless, working feverishly to open boxes filled with presents, destined for homeless children in city shelters. As Community Outreach Coordinator, she has seen up close what receiving a toy means to these kids.
"It's just heartwarming, teary eyed, just getting a toy means everything to them,” said Morales.
The Coalition is the nation's oldest advocacy and direct-service organization helping the homeless. They are trying to get 7,000 toys to kids in shelters for Christmas, which is a huge challenge because there are no volunteers or corporate toy drives this year to help them out because of coronavirus restrictions.
Instead, they are relying on the Amazon Wish List on their website.
"Normally, we would have companies giving us boxes and boxes of toys so now we are really dependent on the public getting together and buying things off of the wish list so that we can fulfill all of the orders that we have,” said Sara Murphy, director of development at the Coalition.
The hardworking crew hopes to receive, open, sort and deliver all of the toys in time for Christmas, to brighten the lives of children under tremendous stress in normal times, even more so during the pandemic.
"You think about what all of these kids have gone through this year, it's like the toy is really the smallest thing you can do that will make such a difference to bring a little bit of happiness in the middle of all of this,” said Murphy, who noted there are nearly 19,000 children living in New York City homeless shelters.
To get a toy to a homeless child, head to http://coalitionforthehomeless.org/toy-drive-wishlist.