BATAVIA – The Batavia Toy Drive will bring Christmas cheer to the children of community families in need.
There are nearly 300 such Batavia families, or about 600 children, who will benefit from this year’s Toy Drive, organizer Roy Bailey of Batavia said.
Donations are needed and welcomed for the distribution to be held on Dec. 15, Bailey said.
New and slightly used unwrapped toys are being accepted at locations all over Batavia.
“This is truly a moment when Batavia steps up and takes care of its own,” Mayor Jeff Schielke said.
Financial donations, including gift cards, may be delivered to the Batavia Police Department at the Batavia City Hall building, 100 N. Island Ave., Bailey said. Checks should be made out to “Batavia ACCESS” with "toy drive" in the memo line.
Toy donations are being accepted at the police station, both of the fire stations, the Batavia Public Library and all Batavia public schools.
Donation boxes also are located at businesses including Funway Entertainment Center and Karl’s Complete Auto Repair.
The toys and other gifts for the children will be distributed Dec. 15 from a downtown building space that is being provided for the Toy Drive by BEI Properties of Batavia.
Eligible families receive a letter from the Toy Drive committee, Bailey said, having been identified by schools, churches, police or other agencies as people who would benefit from the program.
When the parents arrive at the store, they will be able to pick out gifts for their children up to the age of 16.
For each child in a family, parents will be able to select a special gift, along with a game, a puzzle, a hat, a pair of mittens or gloves and a book.
Toy Drive volunteers organize the donations at the store into sections by age and gender for a pleasant shopping experience for the parents, Bailey said.
Gift cards are welcome as donations, Bailey said, especially for teenagers.
There is a particular need this year for donations appropriate for children in the 6- to 10-year-old range, Bailey said.
The origins of the Toy Drive can be traced back to 1948, Schielke said, when members of the Batavia Fire Department repaired broken toys for distribution.
Since the 1980s, the program has operated under the auspices of the city of Batavia ACCESS – short for Action Committee on Community Events and Social Services.
At the Nov. 18 Batavia City Council meeting, well-known community activist Roger Breisch presented Bailey with a $545 check for the toy drive from “Funway’s First,” a mixed couples bowling league.
Dottie Fletcher of Batavia told the council that a comedy night on Nov. 23 at the Batavia Moose Lodge will benefit the toy drive.
Impressionist Bob Jay will be the headliner for the event. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Admission is $10 at the door. The event will include a silent auction and a 50-50 raffle. All proceeds will benefit the toy drive, Fletcher said.
Bailey and his wife Jeanne and their daughter Brittany have been organizing the toy drive for many years, along with Rudy and Marilyn Dubis.
Roy Bailey took over the project from his late mother Mildred Bailey, who was a much beloved figure in Batavia.