Every year Operation Toy Lift is special. But this one felt even more remarkable.
Leading up to this event there is a lot of movement in the backfield. Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwartfeger is joined by folks at the City of Wheeling. Also heavily involved is the Sheriff’s Department in Belmont County and the Ohio Valley Mall. They all work on getting the details and schedule together for the day of the toy lift. We have a small committee of sponsors and media that help with promotion and it all comes together so well.
… And then the community steps in and does the rest.
The day of the lift, the majority of the folks you will see when dropping off donations are wearing a sheriffs department or Police Department uniform. Members from throughout the upper Ohio Valley drive through the location at the Ohio Valley Mall and drop off their donations whether they be monetary or physical toys.
I was so moved to see children handing toys out the window of their vehicle to these officers. What a great experience for parents to give to their children around the holidays. It’s a steady flow of traffic from the time the event starts until it ends six hours later. Thousands of toys are collected along with thousands of dollars that are distributed to families throughout our community.
Beyond the day of the event, there are so many events that raise funding and donations of toys for Operation Toy Lift, but none more than this year.
I would like to give a special thank you to the Ohio Valley Energy Association for having a dinner that supported the toy lift.
Also, thank you to the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce and Belmont Savings Bank for having a luncheon that collected donations. New this year was the Jinglefest luncheon put on by the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce that also benefit the toy lift. A special thank you to Ken Halloy of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for raising $1000 for kids in this area to have a happier holiday.
There are many other companies throughout the community who donated toys. Some contacted our office and some went through the sherif or police departments. Thank you all for being such strong community members, and being so thoughtful around the holidays. Hundreds of families throughout the community benefit from the generosity of every person, organization and company that helped to make this event such a huge success.
I want to especially thank our volunteer elf helpers for setting up a “toy store” out of all of the donations. We take the time after the toy drive to organize the donations so they are easier to navigate. It takes hours to sort through everything, but it’s a labor of love so then be able to look around the room and see all of the generosity from the community. Then the toys are distributed throughout the community through the nonprofit agencies that work with vulnerable populations.
Maddi Seavy with the United Way sets up a schedule with nonprofit agencies and they each come and “shop” for their clients.
It’s a beautiful process and we are so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you so much to everyone involved and I hope you all had a fantastic holiday.
Where do the rest of the toy donations go in our community? To the pediatric department at WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital: https://www.theintelligencer.net/news/community/2022/12/operation-toy-lift-haul-dropped-off-at-wvu-medicine-wheeling-hospital/
If you would like to make a donation in Ohio County, Marshall County, Wetzel County, Tyler County or Brooke County, please consider the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley where you donations will stay local!