Since 1998, ARIZONA HELPING HANDS has held an annual Holiday Toy Drive, making the holidays joyful for children who otherwise might not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. The Drive began 20 years ago in Kathy and Paul Donaldson’s garage. Its goal has been to ensure that every child has a gift to open at the holidays. Over the years, tens of thousands of children have been assisted by TFA, and grateful families had joyful holidays only because of our support.

There have been many blessed years at The Foster Alliance, as national supporters shipped pallets, and sometimes semi-trucks, full of toys and games to our Arizona warehouse. The bulk shipments of Candyland games, building toys, action figures and more helped us put bundles of joy under the Christmas tree. In 2016, we were blessed with multiple semi-trucks full of toys, allowing us to help dozens of our fellow nonprofits, and reaching 29,000 children. Last year, the inflow was cut in half, and so far this year, Santa’s help from these connections has been non-existent.

One prominent national drive recently told us, and all of its prior recipients, that “it may be prudent for your organization to look for other avenues of support.”  This is a dramatic change from prior years and greatly reduces the inflow of toys we use to fill those stockings.  What brought this about?  I’ve theorized that the “Amazon effect” has played a major role, as companies manage their inventory better.  The decline of big box stores certainly has impacted retailers’ willingness to donate excess goods to charitable causes.

All of this has left us in a sad situation.  We are now telling charities throughout the Valley who have relied on us for many years that they also should “look for other avenues of support.”

We have received requests for holiday toys directly from 1,500 children already this year.  We are working diligently to try to gather support to make sure each of these boys and girls has a toy to open this holiday season.  We are working hard to expand our local base of companies that are holding holiday toy drives on our behalf, just this week connecting with more large local employers willing to help.

The elves at The Foster Alliance need you more than ever this year.  We want to make the holidays a joyful time of year for kids in foster care.  They have experienced way too much trauma and abuse in their short lives. That Monopoly game or craft set can raise their spirits for a time and put a smile on the face of children who don’t smile enough.

You can help!  How about changing your Secret Santa party to a collection of toys for kids in foster care?  – who out there needs another scented candle anyway?  Wouldn’t you rather know that kids are smiling because of you?   Your company or organization can sponsor a collection drive, and anyone can buy a toy for a child via our AMAZON wish list found on our website at

We’re counting on our local community more than ever this year.  Will you please lend Santa your Helping Hands?

Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of The Foster Alliance, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization at and contact Dan at

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When we work together, children in foster care have the opportunity to thrive. Whether you need a hand or want to lend one, get in touch.

Together we can make a difference.