By Ukee Washington  

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  For decades, the Boys and Girls Club has been a safe place for children to go after school.

As part of the CBS3 Joy of Sharing Toy Fest, they hope they can give the children a very happy holiday with toys.

As a teen, Patrick Faulk hung out at Camden County’s Boys and Girls Club.

“It was just a place, a safe haven. It was a place to go after school where I would hang out and meet some friends,” Patrick said.

Patrick is now a college graduate and a manager at the club.

More than 200 children a day ages 6 to 18 come here to do homework and play games in a safe place.

Twelve-year-old Dasael Lopez has been coming for three years.

“For little kids, it opens like imagination and all that stuff.  Kids have to be kids,” Dasael said.

Some of the parents of these children work two or three jobs. Not all can afford toys.

“Some parents are okay. They have the financial means,” Patrick said, “But many of them don’t.”

So in a back room, Boys and Girls Club of Camden County executive director Bernadette Shanahan is squirreling away toys for this year’s holiday party.

Many will come from the CBS3 Joy of Sharing Toy Fest.

“Oh, we are so excited to have the Joy of Sharing Toy Fest coming here to the Boys and Girls Club,” Bernadette said. “It’s really going to help the parents relieve some of the stress that they might find themselves in.”

The holiday parties are the highlight of the year.

The club is collecting everything from hats and gloves, to toys for the smaller children, and electronics and gift cards for the older ones.

Alondra Lopez, 11, described what the little kids say: “When they see the toys, they be like ‘Oh my God! Yes! Toys! We get toys.”

Bernadette said, “We just want them to feel joy and gratitude and to know that someone outside cares about them.”

To give, go to https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/toy-fest/ and find a drop-off location near you.

 

Ukee Washington