CHRISTMAS EMERGENCY! 100′s of Kids and no Toys! UPDATED

Folks, I know things are tight all over and it’s late in the season, and you probably have already made your charitable gifts for Christmas, but I wonder if I can tug at your sleeve for a little help.

There is an agency in Paterson, New Jersey, connected to Catholic Charities, and doing outreach and counseling for troubled families — in some cases Dad is jail or recently out — who are struggling to make it and succeed as families.

Normally, this organization receives donations of toys from specific outlets, and the run-offs from other charities but this year, because it is New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy has already cut into stores of toys meant for Christmas, this group has received nothing. Normal avenues — like the Sheriff’s Department and even a famous toy store — have come up empty. There is too much need, not enough to go around, and this group is afraid they will have to cancel their Christmas party (“a Hot-Chocolate-and-Toy Giveaway”), because how can you have a Christmas party — even a modest one — for kids (toddlers to around age 14) and have no gifts?

I got a phone call this morning asking for prayers and also asking me if I knew anyone who could help. Well, I don’t know anyone in New Jersey but our dear Summit Dominicans, who immediately put out feelers and hit the kneelers for the cause, but my other ideas hit the wall of “we would love to help but we have no more toys to give”.

So I turned to Blessed PierGiorgio Frassati and Servant of God Dorothy Day; Dorothy because she worked with the poor and cut through bullcrap to do it, and PierGiorgio because who served the poor, especially children, with more joy than PierGiorgio, and the man loved a good party (he’s our own Beato wearing a party hat!). I have asked them to intercede.

And then I realized, I don’t know anyone in New Jersey, but I know you. I know all of you wonderful folks, who are always so generous when you hear of a need. I’ve been debating all day with myself as to whether I should put the arm on you for toys for these kids — Amazon Prime has two-day delivery — so we can save the party, which is scheduled for Monday, Christmas Eve, and give these kids something from Saint Nicholas!

I’ve been writing, repeatedly, these past few months that we need to be the change we want to see in the world. This is an opportunity to do exactly that. I’m taking it, and will put my money where my mouth is! If you agree with me that the best way to change the world is to be the change, please consider donating a small toy?

When I asked what sorts of toys were needed I was told, “everything” — dolls, cars, trucks, costumes, puzzles, games, curiosities, crafts, everything. They serve toddlers to teens. So I am going to slip into Amazon right now and spend the last of my Christmas money — and do it happily, because I have hardly any kids to buy for, and I’m kind of dying to give that Play-Doh dentistry thing to someone! If you have a little leftover cash and can share it, please know the people at this Family Success Center will be undyingly grateful for the help.

And as we know, God is never, never outdone in generosity!

UPDATE: Please see This follow up. The Family Success Center is very grateful — the scriptural phrase “a good measure and overflowing” comes to mind. I will hopefully have a few pics on Monday!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • pianogirl88

    Thanks….will do this tomorrow! The toys I have at home now are for the Salvation Army at a gathering I’m invited to, but as soon as I get home from that, I will go to amazon and do something.

    [How wonderful you are! Thank you so much! -admin]

  • gradchica

    Just letting you know your post is doing something. They have some toys coming via Amazon from here in SC. Thanks for letting us know–this is close to where I grew up, so it is nice to send something back home for the holidays.

    [Thank you, Grandchica! God bless you! -admin]

  • Deirdre Mundy

    We’re on it. And I sent it out to my social network too, so hopefully we can get these kids a couple of toys!

    [Thank you! It feels like It's a Wonderful Life! :-) _admin]

  • MonicaRafie

    They need a phone – are you just putting your own in? Or is there one we can plug in for the center that you have on hand?

    [I just put my own in...Thank you so very much! admin]

  • Moxie

    973-333-6240 X13. Straight and Narrow phone #

    [How resourceful! Thank you! -admin]

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  • Liz E.

    So glad you shared this. Two small gifts headed their way from my little family. Not much, but something!

    [Not much? Given with love? It's the widows mite that Jesus praised! Thank you! -admin]

  • Lacey

    We sent our little gifts and will offer some prayers for them– Thank you for sharing this with us!!

    [Thank you so very much! admin]

  • Margarette Connor

    Just tweeted the link to this page, and Nia Vardalos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) retweeted it. God is good! She has a little more reach than me! I’ll be sending something, and hopefully many others will help. I’m a New Yorker, so my neighbors!

    [Wow. You travel in great circle! Thanks so much for passing on the need, and for your generous help!-admin]

  • Kort

    Passed it on to some friends and heading out to get an Amazon gift card to send presents. Hoping we can get presents down there in time!

    [Thanks, Kortnee! -admin]

  • Margarette Connor

    Ha ha ha, no she was asking for acts of kindness since she’s so upset about Newtown, so it sounded like a good opportunity to post your link! See, God is good. He gets the information to people who can do the most good by the most roundabout ways! I’m just a brazen tweeter.

  • Wish I could give more!

    I really, really do! One small toy sent to them, the same that we got our baby this Christmas. Breaks my heart to think that there is another nine month old out there who won’t have a special blankie to hold this Christmas.
    … just need to remember that Jesus is holding them however!

    [We call them "Boadies" in our family. :-) Thank you! -admin]

  • Sarah

    Just sent two gifts via 2-day delivery. Hoping they get there in time. God bless you for drawing attention to this worthy cause.

  • Judith

    I also went to Amazon for gifts, which are supposed to arrive on Friday. I just used my own phone #, but I’ve made note of the Straight & Narrow number in case I need it.

  • sarah

    Woo hoo! Thank you for sharing this info with us. I hadn’t had time to do any charitable xmas giving and I’ve been feeling really down about it. I pretty much went buck-wild off amazon and bought everything! THANK YOU Elizabeth!!

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  • Win Nelson

    Done and thank you.

    [Thank you, Win; I hope your health is good! -admin]

  • Christine

    Doctor’s kit & tea set are on their way (hope they get there in time). I will link on Facebook as well. Thank you for sharing this.

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  • Liz S

    Hobbit Lego set and toddler band in a box on their way, and should arrive Friday.

    [Wow, noisy toys! Always the best for Christmas! I sent kazoos and tried to get harmonicas, too! Thank you! -admin]

  • Krista

    I began an endeavor a few days after Newtown happened — never again will I wait for other people to do the kindness I am asked to do. Thank you for giving me my first real chance to stretch out of my comfy place and do something for another person who will never know my name. I love it, I love letting the Holy Spirit work in me — I am grateful that you posted this.

    I you want to join me and a few of my non-Catholic friends, we’re doing the little we can to be the change we wish to see in the world: 28 Days for Newtown Thanks for letting me share that link.

    [Link corrected. Thank you so much for your kindness. And yes, I think doing kind and generous things right now is a beautiful counterbalance to Newtown's pain! -admin]

  • joelle

    Used our Amazon Prime account so the gifts we sent should get there Friday! Thanks for sharing and giving us this chance to help!

    [Looks like Friday is going to be a banner day! -admin]

  • Jerry Mays

    If you happen to use Amazon to order and send a toy or toys they will insist on a phone number. I used 973-345-6000. Pray the gift arrives by Christmas. S.A.G.

    [Their phone number: 973-333-6240. Thank you so much! -admin]

  • Susan D.

    This is fun– I rarely get to pick out stuffed animals first thing in the morning! I’ll pass this along, too. Thanks.

  • Janet

    Came by your site on a whim today. God works through us in many ways! Toys on the way and I’ve shared this link to others who will help. Thank you for posting this!

  • MaggieO

    On it. After all, we get the gift of “the Anchoress” all year long….

  • Kait

    Just read about the #26acts of kindness for Newtown and this is act #1. Picking out the toys was a little treat as well! we’ll be praying for the families, thanks for sharing!

  • Adam

    I see they have a donation button on their website. Talking this over with my wife–we may just opt to send cash and let them decide how best to spend it. (I’m sure that in addition to toys, these kind folks need help with operating costs as well!)

    [Wow. I think they're going to be crying when they read this. How kind! -admin]

  • Jerry Mays

    Could someone suggest a gift for a 14 year old boy and girl? Toddlers are so easy to please. Legos are universal. I’d like to send something for a 14 year old boy and a 14 year old girl but I am clueless and would welcome any suggestions.

  • Julee P

    I just donated directly to the organization.

    Send this to Glenn Reynolds. I bet he would put a link to the article on his blog.

    Merry Christmas!

    [I considered asking Glenn to link, but frankly, I'm afraid that an instalanche might overwhelm Straight and Narrow! :-) -admin]

  • D. Schlei

    @ Jerry
    I sent board games for the teens. Also for boys, think strategy games (Risk, etc.). I considered SnapCircuits but they’re out of my budget. Crafts for girls are good, too. I have a teen daughter who likes origami, drawing, art paper & good drawing pencils, video games, etc.

  • Adam


    I’m guessing that at 14, kids are moving out of toys and into more “adult” play. You could go for something like a football or soccer ball on the low end, or bicycles on the high end. Or there’s always books; I’m not sure what early teenagers read that’s good and uplifting. Were they a bit younger, I’d suggest maybe a box set of Harry Potter or something similar.

  • MonicaRafie

    I was thinking of the teens as well – there are some games that will work for them. 12-13 can still enjoy nerf stuff . . . 14 is tough. Girls may still be into crafts – decorating their own jewelry box kind of stuff. Scrapbook sets. You could also choose juvenile fiction books – there are many that are in a relatively zone in terms of content (google housewifespice for good reviews). My oldest is a 12 yr old boy and it’s already getting difficult to find good gifts . . . but yes, they are in danger of being left out.

    [I gave sketchpads and colored pencils -admin]

  • Campbell

    At breakfast, I asked my 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son for their favorite toys–Barbies and Legos was the immediate answer. So, that’s what is on the way. Thanks for letting us know how to help. Merry Christmas!

    [:-) Kids for kids! -admin]

  • Iris Celeste

    4 toys on the way!

  • Dana Laviano

    One of my bosses gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas and I was gonna save it because I couldn’t think of anything I wanted right away. I’d rather use it for this. Besides, i love an excuse to buy little kid toys – my girls are too “grown up” (8 and 10) for those!

  • Patti Bauler

    Thanks for letting us know. I will pass this on to my friends and family!
    Our toys are on there way!
    May you have a most Blessed Christmas !

  • JoAnna

    I just sent two toys, and blogged about the need as well.

  • Sarah

    That is definitely something we can do! Thanks so much for putting the word out there!


    Two small gifts (monopoly and a stuffed teddy bear) have been sent – will arrive friday :-)

  • Antoinette Serena

    Amazon has my favorite baby gift ever – Discovery Toys Measure-Up Cups! And I got the very last ones! AND the funny blue ball with all the nubs. Thank you for giving us another opportunity to put something GOOD back out there in the world!

  • Carla

    Toys are on the way! Thank you for the information!

  • Michelle

    4 gifts on the way – one each from my 4 kids.

  • Cyndi

    Six small gifts on their way from Amazon. I hope you’ll update us next week…I’d love to know that they got more gifts than they needed.

  • Patricia

    5 gifts on their way..thank you. I wanted to have something special to do in honor of my father and stepfather, both of whom have passed, and this fits perfectly. My father was a social worker for most of his life, and my step-father, was just a wonderfully generous man.

  • Kay

    I just followed your link to Straight and Narrow and made a small Paypal contribution directly to the organization but there was no way to specify it was for the Christmas party. Thanks for posting about this. So many people are in need or hurting this Christmas season.

  • thomas tucker

    Is it okay to donate directly to them thru Paypal, or would they rather have the gifts from Amazon?

  • Marion

    Gifts are on their way! Thanks for posting about this, Anchoress. We were just praying for guidance to help “give a little more” before Christmas… This is great!

  • WaPatriette

    6 toys coming from Seattle, WA, shared on Facebook to spread the word. A local charity told us they get the fewest items for very young (0-2yrs) and very old (age 13+) so that’s what we sent (hopefully it all works out). Thanks and Merry Christmas!!

  • Jennifer @ The Toy Box Years

    Ordered and sent art supplies, a baby doll, stuffed animal, and blocks. Merry Christmas and God bless!