DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 needs to collect 20,000 toys to make sure that every Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver member gets a toy this Christmas. The Together 4 Colorado Toy Drive is an annual tradition that brightens the holidays for children from some of Denver’s poorest neighborhoods.
“For a lot of our club families, they are living close to the poverty line. The average household income needed for Denver right now is $60,000 and for more than half of our families, they’re living at $20,000 a year,” said Erin Porteous, President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. “They’re making decisions between filling up the gas tank or filling up their grocery cart, paying the heating bill or paying the water bill, so being able to buy gifts for young ones isn’t something that’s part of the annual budget.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver is to serve children from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. There are 20 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the Denver Metro Area, many of them in the lowest socioeconomic neighborhoods. The clubs are near or sometimes in schools, and provide quality after school care.
“They have a variety of needs, for some kids it’s just a place to feel safe, for others the clubs are a place where they can experience opportunities, like sport teams, and STEM programming and the arts,” Porteous said.
The clubs provide an after-school snack, as well as, a warm meal for dinner. They are staffed by caring adults, and many club members get jobs at the clubs as they get older.
“So at Boys & girls Clubs, we’re focused on three key areas for our kids. We want them to be academically successful. We want them to be leaders in the community, and we want them to make healthy choices, both emotionally and physically,” Porteous told CBS4.
Programming at the clubs includes organized athletics, robotics competitions, leadership clubs, and arts classes. Each club has a learning center, where club members can earn rewards for reading, get help on their homework, and expand their imaginations.
“There’s three areas where we’re really able to see the success of our kids. the first is they have less attendance issues than their peers. They stay in school and don’t have truancy or missed absences. The second is there’s less behavioral issues. They do better in their classrooms and they have stronger rapport with their teachers. And third, they do well on their course work, so not only homework but also standardized testing.”
For many of the Boys & Girls Clubs members, the club is like a second home, and the staff and their friends are like a second family. They rely on the clubs for support, and the holiday season is no exception.
“This toy drive is so important because it helps our kids to know they are cared for. That someone’s thinking about them this holiday season,” Porteous said.
The Together 4 Colorado Toy Drive collects new toys for children ages 6 to 18. It’s particularly important to donate items that will appeal to teenagers, they often get forgotten during Christmas. Some popular gifts include games, STEM kits, art supplies, sporting equipment, bikes, or head phones. Gift cards are also an easy donation, and they allow the children to choose their own present.
“We hold parties at all 20 of our Boys & Girls Clubs through the city. Those evenings are filled with fun and excitement,” Porteous said.
When the parties are done, and the holidays are over, the clubs continue to use the toys as incentives for doing well in academic, athletic, and leadership activities.
The Together 4 Colorado Toy Drive from from November 29th to December 24th. There are collection bins in participating King Supers stores, the CBS4 Studios at 1044 Lincoln Street, and VooDoo Donuts at 98 S. Broadway. CBS4 & KBCO will be collecting toys during the Together 4 Colorado Collection Day on Thursday, December 12th from 5am to 7pm.