Mattress Firm Foster Kids Toy Drive and Secret Santas
Meeting Santa and opening gifts are often our favorite childhood memories of the holiday season. The excitement to meet Santa builds throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, as we give him and the elves enough time to read all of our lists and prepare to deliver gifts from the North Pole. Sometimes, we even cooperated for a photo on his lap, and that photo becomes a cherished family memento for years to come.
B ut, for some children who are just entering foster care during the holidays, this time of year is especially difficult. Among all of the other stressors and life changes, they wonder if Santa will be able to find them in their new home. Their foster families do everything they can to make Christmas special, but as we all know, the cost adds up quickly.
Partnering with Local Foster Care Organizations to Make Christmas Bright
Mattress Firm Foster Kids hosts six donation drives per year to collect essential items and raise funds to help thousands of local foster children. Donations from each drive are distributed to local nonprofit partner organizations. From November 1 through December 18, all 3,600 Mattress Firm stores collected toys to donate as holiday presents.
Many of our foster care agency partners host parties to bring the magic of the holidays to foster children and their families, and some are lucky enough to have a surprise visit from Mr. & Mrs. Claus. I remember one of the partner holiday parties we attended was specifically for older foster youth. I couldn't believe the enthusiasm of the teens when we arrived. For some, this was the first time they had ever celebrated Christmas.
Unfortunately, many foster youths have never celebrated holidays before -- even their birthday. But, this was the first time I had heard of any teens celebrating for the first time. I kept thinking, “How is that possible?"
One 16-year-old girl at the party was especially excited for a very important reason -- she had never met Santa. She asked everyone's opinions on what to say to Santa when she got to meet him. She debated sitting on his lap, telling him the gift she wanted for Christmas and hoped he'd take a photo with her. You couldn't help but be as excited as she was but heartbroken at that same time. The joy it brought to her is something I'll never forget.
This year our team had the opportunity to attend the same partner's party. We had heard of a 17-year-old boy that had never opened a gift before this holiday season. Hearing stories like this are a constant reminder of why the support we provide foster youth is so important. We want to ensure we're giving them a special Christmas through our Toy Drive, whether it's the first time they've celebrated or fifteenth. Every child deserves to have a gift under the tree and their stockings full of fun toys and treats.
Mattress Firm Elves & Bows and Pros
On Monday, December 19, our team took the gift-giving even further than in past years. We chose six cities – Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Raleigh, and Washington DC – and became “Mattress Firm Elves." Members of the Mattress Firm family took the donations collected during the Toy Drive and hand delivered them to our local foster care nonprofit partners.
Also, a week earlier, we partnered with the Atlanta Falcons for an event called Bows and Pros. We donated toys to over 200 foster kids throughout Georgia and treated them to a special evening of hanging out with players and holiday activities.
Thank you to everyone who donated to our Toy Drive for helping us make the holidays special for foster children across the country.
Here are a few pictures of the fun we had over the past few weeks: