RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Christmas and gospel music decked the halls at New Life Deliverance Tabernacle in Richmond at the Dreamers Academy Foundation’s (DAF) second annual ‘Christmas Toy Drive’ on Saturday.
“We hope this is a glimmer of hope for the kids, you know, they probably thought they weren’t going to get anything this year,” said Kevin Hall, owner of Community Love Apparel, a sponsor of the drive. “And now they were able to get something so you know it changed their whole mindset.”
The Dreamers Academy Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organization that was founded by a group of Richmond natives, who all share the drive to create educational and athletic opportunities for the economically disadvantaged students of Central Virginia
The Toy Drive was able to supply over 400 toys to children for the holidays and, after last year’s turnout, organizers said they knew they had to give more this year.
“We felt we should do bigger and better this year just based on the circumstances from the pandemic,” said Lamarr Johnson, Founder of Dreamers Academy Foundation and co-owner of Pig and Brew, a sponsor for the toy drive. “
Measures were put in place by DAF to maintain proper CDC regulations: accountable social distancing, temperature checks upon entry, and only one family was allowed to enter the drive at a time.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney made an appearance at the event to speak to children picking out toys for Christmas.
And the pandemic didn’t prevent Santa Claus from Stepping out in his Jordan’s, to take pictures with the children and make their day.
“I loved seeing Santa,” Taliyah Howard said.
Taliyah came to the toy drive with her mom and stood in line for about half an hour. Once she entered the church and saw Santa, she instantly forgot about her time in the cold.
Taliyah shared how after seeing the big man she’s looking forward to Christmas. She said she told him what she wanted for Christmas.
“A touchscreen computer, anything I want,” Taliyah said.
Hall said this toy drive is a demonstration, that even during difficult times, you can pull together as a community to make a difference.
“We want them to know there are people out there that love them, Hall said. “They always say ‘it takes a village right?’ We’re trying to bring that concept back.”
And Johnson said the smiles that beam on the faces of the children, like Howard, is all the reward he needs.
“It makes us feel good, it’s doing exactly what we did this for,” Johnson said. ” The people that’s been overlooked, the people that are really in need, we’re trying to help those people.”
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