December, a cold winter season full of joy, giving, and many religious and cultural holidays including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.
While many children and teenagers around the globe associate this time of year with gifts, some are not accustomed to that luxury for various reasons.
That is why the Hope Brigade Club collects toys to donate to kids at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve done this toy drive for the past 3 years,” said Cindy Chen, the club president. “Every year our goal is to collect as many toys as possible to make these kids happy because a lot of kids at UCSF have cancer and some of their parents can’t afford to have a good Christmas with them so these toys are good to help them out.”
According to Chen, there is a lot of student participation during the toy drive.
Students can donate a variety of toys, ranging from dolls and action figures to footballs and bracelet makers.
Toys that are secondhand can be donated, but they have to be in a good condition as they are holiday gifts for children at UCSF.
“I like the idea of giving a new gift to someone in comparison to giving an old gift,” said Evan McDonald, a sophomore. “Even though I am trying to save money I don’t want to be cheap when it comes to these gifts.”
For students who are unsure of what to donate, some teachers have found other ways to enable their contribution.
“Last year, one teacher collected money from her students and bought toys with the money that they gave her,” Chen said.
This solution helps students who may not have enough extra money to buy a gift. It allows them to still donate without going out and buying a gift.
However, some still think it is more fulfilling to buy the gift themselves.
“Most of the time it’s better to actually go out and get the gift,” McDonald said. “Because it shows how you’re not just checking off a box on a list to make yourself feel better, you’re actually going out of your way to get a toy hoping that it gets to a kid. That in itself is nice.”
The toy drive will end on Dec. 14, the Friday before final exams.
After the drive ends, Chen will bring the toys to UCSF where they will be distributed to the patients
“Even if you can’t see the person who truly bought the gift for you, just knowing that there are people that can help you, is something that can hit deep and it can last forever,” McDonald said. “It’s a good feeling to have.”