The holiday season might be about snowflakes and holly and magic for many people, but for a big segment of the population it’s about the toys that Santa Claus will deliver on Christmas morning.
And Santa’s got a big helper in York County, thanks to Toys for Happiness, the toy donation and distribution program operated by Rock Hill radio station WRHI.
The Sleigh Bell Network, coordinated by the United Way of York County, brings together the efforts of several community organizations – The Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund, Toys for Happiness, Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank.
Their goal: Make sure children in York, Chester and Lancaster counties have gifts under the Christmas tree – and their families have food on the table.
Toys for Happiness started back in 1986, said Alan Miller, co-owner of Our Three Sons Broadcasting.
“We discovered at that time that Toys for Tots was taking toys to the Charlotte area,” Miller said, instead of distributing them in York County.
So WRHI decided to work locally. Today, Toys for Happiness and Toys for Tots work together this time of year.
Toys for Happiness receives between 25,000 and 30,000 toys each year, Miller said, including “hundreds and hundreds” of bicycles.
“It’s been 28 years of miracles,” he said. “Many times, we’ve gotten down to the last four or five days before Christmas, and we make an appeal and people just overwhelm us.
“Even during the toughest times, the people of York County have been generous and fulfilled the needs.”
The organization asks that toys be new or like new, and that they are donated unwrapped. Toys for Happiness does not accept toy guns, Miller said, and items such as electronic games are difficult to give away. He also said there’s more of a need for items older children often want, like sports equipment and cosmetics.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072