TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Hope for the Holidays Toy Drive, created by First Lady Casey DeSantis, Hope Florida and the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, distributed more than 1,400 toys, bringing joy and festive spirit to Florida families in need during the 2023 holiday season.
Individuals and businesses from around the state donated new toys that were distributed to foster families, Hope Florida participants, domestic violence shelters and Florida families in need. In total, over 1,400 toys were generously given away, impacting the lives of more than 150 families and bringing smiles to over 300 children across Florida.
“Every donated toy and every wrapped gift brought smiles and restored a sense of pride to families facing challenges this holiday season,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “We are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives.”
The Department of Children and Families held distribution events around the state where families had the opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts for their children and grandchildren. Volunteers then wrapped the chosen gifts, adding a personal touch to the season of giving.
“It warms my heart to see the dedication of Hope Navigators, our Hope Partners and community leaders in bringing joy to families during the holiday season,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Thanks to the leadership of First Lady DeSantis, and members of the community who donated, we were able to bring hope to so many Florida families.”
Highlight from the Toy Drive:
A mother of four visited one of the distribution sites and shared that she and her children had been homeless but recently moved into a home thanks to a referral from Hope Florida and that she had also recently obtained employment and was on her lunch break. The mother’s 11-year-old daughter had stated that she didn’t need her mom to buy her anything for Christmas because her mom had gotten them a home. With the cost of moving, the mother said she could not afford Christmas presents, decorations or a tree. She was so excited when her Hope Navigator told her about the toy distribution event. She asked for the gifts to be wrapped and said she was going to hide them in the trunk of her car until Christmas Eve and then surprise the kids.
First Lady Casey DeSantis, Hope Navigators and the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet want to extend heartfelt thanks to all partners, volunteers and contributors for making these events a success and bringing holiday joy to families in need.