SYFS issues urgent Toy Drive appeal
“Will Santa find me tonight?
Submitted by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services
Shrewsbury- Due to an influx of families that have been placed in local hotels for temporary housing, Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS) along with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), have announced that they are increasing their efforts in this year’s Toy Drive. The groups are appealing to the public to donate new, non-violent toys. Items for all age groups are welcomed but there is a particular need for infant and toddler toys as well as gift certificates for teens.
Now in its ninth year, the annual toy drive began 10 years ago on Christmas Eve. That night, Margie Simone, a social worker with the Department of Social Services, arrived home hours late for dinner with her extended family. She explained that she had been tending to a five-year-old girl who had called 911 saying that her mother “would not wake up.” Paramedics responded to the call and found the mother unconscious from a heroin overdose. They took the mother away in an ambulance, and the little girl was taken to DSS at 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The little girl sat in Margie’s office, wrapped in a blanket from the paramedics, with no shoes or coat due to the rush of leaving her home. Margie made numerous phone calls to pre-screened foster homes trying to find the girl a place to stay. After more than an hour of phone calls, a foster home was found, but the foster family said that they had already had dinner and had no toys for the girl, but they would give her a bed for the night.
Margie told the little girl that she would be going to a nice family, and the little girl’s response was, “Will Santa find me tonight?” Margie drove the little girl through McDonalds and dropped her off to the foster family, and she then went to CVS to buy any toy she could find to drop back off to the foster family for the little girl to have on Christmas morning.
As Margie told her story to her large extended family, they looked around the room and saw an abundance of food on the table and presents under the tree. They wondered how an innocent little girl could be hungry and homeless on Christmas Eve right there in their own community. Margie’s two nephews, Rod Geer and Peter Frongillo, who were freshmen at St. John’s High School at the time, decided that very moment that they would start a toy drive so that every child could have toys at the holidays.
Donations may be dropped off at the following locations by Friday, Dec. 13:
- Gymnastics Learning Center – 574 Lake St.
- Shrewsbury Senior Center – 98 Maple Ave.
- Shrewsbury Public Library – 609 Main St.
- Shaw’s Osco Pharmacy – White City Plaza
- Trinity Church Lobby – 440 Main St.
- Avidia Bank – 23 Maple Ave.
Your generosity will help brighten the holidays of these children and help answer this question: “Will Santa find me tonight?” For more information, please call 508- 753-6789.
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