‘Tis the season for stockings hung by the fire and Christmas trees surrounded by presents, but not all families are so fortunate. For parents coping with financial hardship, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. The desire for a magical Christmas still exists, but the money needed to make it happen just isn’t there.
That’s why this year, Secure Storage, a California self storage operation with facilities in Bloomington, Redlands and Highland, has once again partnered with Toys for Tots to help make the season bright for families in need.
Facility manager Ryan Evans spearheads the initiative each year, creating an opportunity for tenants and the public to donate toys for the weeks leading up to Christmas.“It’s the holiday season,” said Evans. “And I know that some people don’t get to have the holidays.”
Each October, Toys for Tots opens up the program to sign-ups, allowing businesses like Secure Storage to register as drop-off locations. In November, businesses receive marketing materials and other necessary supplies to get started. Businesses are then able to receive donations of toys up until about a week and half before Christmas, at which time the gifts are picked up by marines who serve as an important liaison between drop-off locations and families in need.
For Secure Storage, those military liaisons come from Twentynine Palms, which is home to the largest marine corps base in the country. The toys, however, are distributed more locally.
To receive toys from Toys for Tots, families in need can make a request through the Toys for Tots website and fill out a form including the age and gender of the child or children in need. The program is typically open to children 12 and under, thought some communities may extend the age limit to include teenagers.
For storage facilities, the process of becoming a toy drop-off location is as simple as registering. After receiving Toys for Tots materials, businesses must advertise so that individuals in the local community know that they are a drop-off location.
For Secure Storage, that means a sign outside of each storage facility location, an advertisement on the website and an email to tenants that includes information about the Toys for Toys partnership as well as a reminder about holiday hours. Secure Storage does not limit donations to those from tenants; the storage facility also accepts gifts from the public. This allows Evans and the rest of the Secure Storage team to expand their charitable reach while garnering goodwill in the local community, which can in turn grow business.This year, Secure Storage has seen an increase in donations.
“We’ve had quite a bit,” said Evans, who attributes the influx of donations to a more viable economy that allows the local community to be more charitable.
When asked for advice on how to give back this holiday season—or any season—as a self storage operator, Evans suggested that businesses contact their Chambers of Commerce, local food banks or other charities and ask what’s needed.
“There are a million things they can do,” he said. “They just have to ask.”