Toys Help Make Holidays Happier

“It really is all about giving.”

Sharon Foster of TravelCenters of America says employees look forward to the annual toy drive, to benefit children who have been chased by fire from their homes in 2016.

In many cases, the children and their families lost everything.

The Red Cross provides immediate financial assistance to families affected by home fires, to help them find a safe place to stay, warm food to eat, and any other needs they may have in the hours after the fire.

TravelCenters of America employees provide the children with a reason to smile. They purchase new toys to place under the tree in the lobby of the national headquarters building in Westlake.  About 400 toys were under the tree when Red Cross volunteers retrieved them on Tuesday, December 20th to transfer them to the Greater Cleveland Chapter headquarters.

The children were brought to the Red Cross the next day, to choose a toy of their own from the vast selection of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, board games, art supplies and more.

“The employees will watch which toys are being collected, to make sure there’s an equal amount for boys and girls.” Sharon said. “If someone notices there isn’t a squishy teddy bear, they buy one to place under the tree.”

This is the 18th year employees of TravelCenters of America have been collecting new toys for children who have received help from the Red Cross.  In that time, nearly 5,000 toys have been donated.

“The volunteers who respond to the fires have seen the children in their darket hours,” said Renee Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Northeast Ohio Region.  “It’s so powerful to be able to see the children in such a happy setting.  It’s incredible.”

The toys collected by TravelCenters of America employees are distributed throughout the region, so children who have been affected by home fires in all 5 chapters in Northeast Ohio have a chance to have a happier holiday season.

Many families experience home fires during the holiday season.  Here are some ways to keep your family safe at this time of year.

Click here to see more pictures from the 2016 Travel Centers of America/Red Cross toy drive and distribution.