CLEVELAND (WJW) — Anton Grdina Elementary School in Cleveland’s Garden Valley neighborhood looked like Santa had set up a satellite workshop Tuesday.
“Everything that you see, that was donated,” said Jan Ridgeway, Volunteer Director at nonprofit Garden Valley Neighborhood House.
About 3,000 toys covered the tables in the school’s gym.
“This area has one of the highest density of children in the city of Cleveland so it’s not surprising for us to have 1,000 or 1,200 kids signed up for toys,” Ridgeway said.
The nonprofit says they were expecting an order of toys, but a miscommunication left them empty-handed. Support started spreading on social media and within a day and a half, there were enough donations to give every kid something under the tree.
“When we heard that there were kids that may not have Christmas gifts we just wanted to make sure that we would try to alleviate that problem,” said Julie Snipes-Rea who brought a donation.
“I really love that, that’s beautiful, you really probably wouldn’t have seen this last year,” said one of the recipients.
Cars stretched back several streets, while the organization used the school to fill up shopping carts.
“It allowed us to spread out in the gym and make for a safer working condition even for our volunteers,” said Ridgeway.
Throughout the day everything ran like a well-oiled machine with volunteers outside filling out forms so that those inside could pick up the items of need. Other items were provided like PPE, blankets, coats and personal hygiene goods.
Ridgeway says some donations have been cut back because of COVID-19 and the virus has hit this neighborhood hard. “What the pandemic has done, now they’re in deeper poverty,” he said.
One person in line had her first child at the beginning of the pandemic.
“All I want is for him to be able to have his first Christmas and everything so I’m glad that they’re doing something like this,” the woman said.
Ridgeway saying it means a lot to know that people still care.
“The response that we have had for the toys, it’s a demonstration of the hope that still exists in this city,” he said.
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