Bring Joy to Our Students and Our Community: East Region Holiday Drives

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

In the final month of 2021, let’s examine the year that will pass and think about ways we’ve evolved from what we have experienced and how we have touched lives. Donating to a December holiday food and toy drive is one way we can add more joy to our students and our neighboring communities.

Winter Park Campus Toy Drive

The East Region will be supporting the Eatonville Neighborhood Center for Families toy drive. A drive-thru toy giveaway will take place on Thursday, December 16, 2021, at Hungerford Elementary. As we look to support the families of this center, the Winter Park executive dean’s office (Room 244) will be accepting toy donations through Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at 5 p.m. The toy donations will be dropped off at the Eatonville Neighborhood Center for Families on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. The following donations will be accepted:

  • Unwrapped Toys
  • Wrapping Paper

Note: Teenagers typically do not receive enough gifts, so the emphasis is being placed on this group to ensure all age groups receive a gift. Ideas include makeup, sporting equipment, gaming accessories, books, pajamas, etc.

Engelwood Elementary Toy Drive

For the past four years, Engelwood Elementary has hosted a successful Christmas Toy Drive to give toys to students from their school as well as their siblings from nearby schools. The Christmas Store will provide school parents with a wonderful opportunity to come to the school and select free toys for their children. The toys will then get gift wrapped and parents can take them home. If you have toys to donate, please drop them off at the school [front office] by Monday, December 13, 2021, at 3 p.m., in order to have the time to organize the store.

Suggested donations:

  • New, unwrapped toys (ages 4-10 boys and girls) such as dolls, cars, Legos, board games (no guns), etc.
  • Older students (ages 11-17 years) are often overlooked. Consider donating books, gift cards, electronic gaming accessories, sporting equipment, etc., for this age group.
  • Stuffed animals
  • Clothing items, pajamas, socks, underwear for ages 4-11 boys and girls.

Gift cards and checks can be donated. Contact Program Coordinator Natalia Giraldo at Engelwood Elementary, 407-249-6340, extension 3344-2250, if you wish to donate a gift card or check. One hundred percent of these donations will go directly to purchase toys for the toy store.

All donations will be provided to all Title 1 families on Thursday, December 16, 2021.

Orange County Mayor’s Toy Drive

Now in its 11th year, the Orange County Mayor’s Toy Drive has collected more than 56,000 toys that directly benefit local youth to ensure a happy holiday season. Last year, the drive collected a record-breaking 11,000 toys and served over 500 families countywide.

For safety and convenience, toy donations can be made online through Monday, December 6, 2021, or toys can be dropped off in person at 21 countywide collection sites through Monday, December 13, 2021.

Residents are encouraged to purchase a new, unwrapped toy and either drop off in person or make an online donation. Children and youth are served — from infants to teens. Cash, gift cards and plush toys are not accepted. Please include extra items where appropriate. For example, please purchase batteries with electronic toys or crayons with a coloring book.

Online shopping is available now through Monday, December 6, 2021, by simply visiting www.ocfl.net/ToyDrive. This option allows donors to purchase items for the Mayor’s Toy Drive from their phone or computer. Some donors may prefer to select their toys for donation and drop them off at a collection site. In-person donations will be accepted now through Monday, December 13, 2021. For a complete list of public drop-off locations throughout Orange County, visit www.ocfl.net/ToyDrive.

Pooky’s Pantry East Campus Holiday Food Drive

The East Campus Pooky’s Pantry is collecting food donations through Friday, December 10, 2021. The following items are needed:

  • Protein canned meats
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cake mix/desserts
  • Stuffing
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Refrigerated items
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Canned fruit
  • Condiments and spices
  • Canned beans
  • Carton milk

Please drop off your donations to East Campus, Building 4, Room 134 or the donation bins in Buildings 4 and 5.

Your kindness and generosity throughout the year do not go unnoticed. I recognize that at this busy time of year with so many deadlines, activities and cobbling together some normalcy compared to the 2020 holiday season, it can be difficult to even fathom doing more or giving more. If it is feasible for you to help these incredible children and community partners, we are grateful, and I know the recipients of your gifts will be most appreciative.

Last, but not least, I want to recognize our internal and external supporters of our Pooky’s Pantry — without the partnerships and donations within Valencia and with community organizations, we would not have food assistance for our Valencia students. I also hope that we can augment our pantry stock as we close out the year and prepare our students for the long break when the college is closed and in preparation for 2022. And, if it is more feasible to help your favorite community organization through your actions and service, that is also greatly appreciated. We have much to be thankful for as we close out the year, and the intentionality of giving, gifting, and service, is a mighty force that will bolster us as we begin a New Year.

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for all you do for one another and for our students.

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