This was another unusual year for our annual family food and toy drive. The Covid pandemic is still not over, so we adapted our food and toy drive to include online and curbside parts. And we discovered that we really prefer some of the changes!
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The Kindness Elves and Pete the Cat Are a Fun Way to Encourage Participation in a Food and Toy Drive
We started participating in food and toy drives with Zoey when she was 2 years old. The Kindness Elves met Pete the Cat and had a note that said “Let’s go to the food and toy drive with Pete the Cat and give it our all!”
“Give it our all” refers to a special message from Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. I love the message and song that runs through the book. While the book isn’t that understandable for babies and young toddlers, the song from it is still perfect (and toddlers do love the book):
“Give it your all, give it your all.
At Christmas we give,
so give it your all.”
You can listen to and learn the tune for the song at Harper Collins sing-along version of the book.
We continued to use Kindness Elves and Pete the Cat in our food and toy drive in 2016.
Our Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Doll joined us again in 2017 with the Kindness Elves (now a family with a baby). In addition to focusing on Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, we read books about hunger and poverty to give Zoey a deeper understanding about why we do the food and toy drive each year. (Note: The Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Doll is no longer available, but you could probably use a Pete the Cat plush doll with a cat or dog Santa hat if you want a Christmas version of Pete the Cat.)
In 2018, we were joined by a new baby and toddler in our family!
In 2019, we were joined by the Kindness Elves, Pete the Cat, and the entire families of both my now-adult kids for our 5th annual food and toy drive.
With the Covid pandemic, our 6th annual family food and toy drive went online and curbside in 2020.
Our 7th Annual Family Food and Toy Drive in 2021
In addition to the Kindness Elves and Pete the Cat, our family food drives include my two adult children’s families: my son, Will, my daughter-in-law, Chea, Zoey (8 years old), Sophia (4 years old), my daughter, Chrissy, my son-in-law, Tom, and Caleb (3½ years old) along with the main organization by me.
The Kindness Elves and Pete the Cat again invited everyone to join in a food and toy drive with their message: “Let’s do a family food and toy drive.” This year, the Kindness Elves had to be found in the Christmas tree, and Pete was sitting on the chair next to them.
Zoey, Sophia, and Caleb loved finding the Kindness Elves in the Christmas tree. The 3 baby Kindness Elves are always favorites! (Note: After our food and toy drive work, Zoey hid the Kindness Elves for Sophia and Caleb to find. Yes, these are elves they can touch!)
Zoey, Sophia, and Caleb each picked out a toy and book online from a local store to give to a child their age. In the photo, Sophia is choosing a toy for a child her age. I didn’t specify what type of toy it needed to be, but I chose a price range and age range online for the toy. I helped my grandkids as needed, but they made kind choices without hesitation.
We realized that this might be the way we always want to do our toy and book choices. Not only is it much simpler, but it’s emotionally easier for young children. I’ve always been amazed at how well my grandkids have handled choosing a toy for another child when they didn’t get one, but this eliminated any stress for them.
(Note: When the choosing is done in a store, with toddlers and young preschoolers, I usually like to take the major role in choosing the toy. I focus on a toy the child loves but already has at home. That way, the giving experience is a joyful one. Otherwise, toddlers will generally want the donated toy themselves and might be sad about the experience.)
Other than donating some items from our home pantries, I had placed an order from a local store. I’m a real fan of curbside pickup or home delivery for groceries in general … especially during the pandemic!
When we had all the toys and groceries, I placed the unopened toys and books in gift bags.
Chrissy, Caleb, and I distributed the food and toys. In the photo, Caleb and Chrissy have the toy bags ready for donation at a local donation center.
Even though this wasn’t our usual family food and toy drive, we’ve started some new traditions that allow the kids to take a bigger part than ever.
The Ultimate Guide to Kindness Elves
I’ve collected Kindness Elf activities and ideas since they first came out in 2013. You can find all of my Kindness Elf posts in my Ultimate Guide to Kindness Elves.
I hope you’re able to find ways to make this holiday special for your family and for others. Wishing you and your family safe, healthy, and blessed holidays.
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