Charlotte’s First Annual Toy Drive

For those of you who read my post about my goddaughter Charlotte and her desire to brighten the Christmas holidays of children less fortunate, here’s a lovely followup post written about the success of the drive and Charlotte’s giving spirit. This is the link to the original post written by Jeff Toquinto.

ToquiNotes: A Much-Needed Dose of Humanity…Courtesy of a 4-Year-Old

By Jeff Toquinto on November 17, 2012


Just when I’m convinced that humanity has gone to heck in a hand basket, something gave me a reprieve. That reprieve, however, came from the most unlikely of sources.
For those who regularly visit Connect-Bridgeport, you probably already know about Charlotte Kirby. If not, you should.
You see, Charlotte is a relatively new resident in the city and decided that she would like to hold a toy drive to assist the homeless. And she did just that on Friday as hundreds of individuals who were homeless, on hard times or simply without enough money to provide gifts for their children at Christmas showed up at The Soup Opera in Fairmont, which provides daily meals for the needy.
Did I mention that Charlotte Kirby is at the ripe old age of four?
Think about if you can recall what you were doing at age four. My memory is pretty solid, but outside of wanting to play all day with my vast collection of Big Jim and G.I. Joe toys, I can honestly say charity and good will were not only at the bottom of my collective thought process, but was nowhere on it at all.
So where on earth would a child so young begin to come up with an idea that showed she cared so much? According to her mother Belynda, who moved here a little more than two years ago from Virginia, it started in the summer and the thought never went away.
“She started talking about it at the beginning of the summer that she wanted to do a toy sale or a yard sale for the homeless and she just kept talking about it over and over,” Belynda said. “We would just listen to her and move on or tell her that it wouldn’t work because the homeless didn’t have money to buy toys.”
The thought, however, didn’t go away. Eventually, mom decided that little Charlotte was very serious and that maybe a toy drive was what her daughter was thinking.
“We met with the Soup Opera and talked about doing this. (Charlotte) dressed up and even told them we were going to serve food,” mom said of the event proposal.
Yesterday, they did, in fact, serve food. Those that waited in the long line at The Soup Opera were treated to a helping of food, gifts and a refreshing helping of youthful humanity.
“It was absolutely the greatest joy to see her caring about others. She knows it’s not about her. I tear up several time times a day thinking about this,” Belynda said. “The big thing is that she’s the one who’s really getting so much from this. To watch her open up the boxes that came in with gifts for others and see her excitement knowing that it was going to someone else is the type of happiness, as a parent, you can’t describe.”
Those packages she opened weren’t just from the local zip codes. There were packages from her former home state of Virginia, as well as gifts arriving from Florida, Washington State, Georgia and even Canada. Many of the gifts that arrived weren’t from individuals the Kirby’s knew. Of course, a lot of the gifts came from drop-off locations throughout the area, including one at the Benedum Civic Center that always seemed to be refilled with gifts.
“I’ve noticed such a sense of community,” mom said. “The support has been tremendous. People have been involved and eager to help once we got this started, but I never believed it would develop into this.”
Kirby said getting the word out on various social media components, including Facebook, may have played a large part in the success. Getting local businesses, including Target, also helped.
The only real problem that came as a result of the toy drive’s success was that there were so many toys that transporting them appeared to be a problem. But, even that had a happy ending. Belynda Kirby said DeMary Brothers Transfer out of Bridgeport was contacted and provided the delivery for the bulk of the toys to Fairmont.
“This has felt about as good as you can expect,” said Belynda. “I hope it provided some help for those who need help with toys during this time of year.”
With 1,000-plus given out Friday, it almost certainly did that. And it’s safe to say it did much more. Charlotte Kirby, in her own diminutive way, provided hope for the future. There may be no bigger gift than that.

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