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.

Free Toys For Children Following Home Fires

Travel Centers of America Workers Hold Toy Drive for Home Fire Survivors

Dozens of children recently chased from their homes by fire now have new board games, baby dolls and teddy bears, thanks to about 300 employees at TravelCenters of America.

The workers have been collecting toys at the company’s National Headquarters building in Westlake since Thanksgiving, anxious to help families facing hard times during the holiday season.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross packed the toys into an idle Emergency Response Vehicle on December 22, and transported them to Red Cross Regional Headquarters, where they were distributed the next day.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The children chose whatever they wanted from tables mounded with soft, cuddly stuffed toys, remote control cars and superhero action figures. They also enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate while their parents breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that at least part of Christmas was taken care of.

Employees with TravelCenters of America hold the toy drive for children affected by disasters every year.  The American Red Cross is grateful to them and to all who make a contribution to disaster relief, especially at this time of year.