The Jonnie Stephenson Foundation hosted its ninth annual toy drive this month to benefit Faces Without Places
, a nonprofit that “empowers lives by removing educational barriers and providing enrichment opportunities for local children experiencing homelessness.”
The toy drive allows for about 500 children to have a holiday season in which they experience the joy of receiving, as most other children are afforded the opportunity to do.
“So many families talk about how cool it is to be able to participate, especially this time of year when their kids are going to school with each other,” says Ramin Mohajer, Executive Director of Faces Without Places.
When delivering gifts last year, Mohajer says he dressed as Santa for a party at Interfaith Hospitality Network’
s shelter in Walnut Hills.
“It’s a really amazing experience,” he says. “Kids enjoy it so much and get so excited. One child kept questioning me whether or not I was the real Santa Claus, and finally I convinced him I was.”
At some of the shelters, rather than dressing as Santa, Mohajer and other representatives from the nonprofit drop gifts off to parents, who can then choose what they would like to provide their child with rather than simply being given a gift at random and with less meaning.
“It’s not just, ‘Here’s the gift you get,’ ” Mohajer says. “It really brightens the day for all the kids, all the families.”
• Purchase winter items like coats, gloves and scarves for children in need. Contact Gretchen
to coordinate your donation.
• Support Faces Without Places by donating
with the organization by engaging in activities like birthday party planning for children at our local shelters.