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Toy Chest by Charles LeDray, 2005-2006
Photo: Whitney Museum

Donate to a holiday toy drive in New York City

Spread a little cheer to the kids who need it most by donating to a holiday toy drive in New York City.

Written by
Lindsey Thomas

Donating to a toy drive is always a great way to brighten the holidays for children in need, but this year, as New Yorkers continue to get on their feet after Hurricane Sandy, local toy drives have the potential to touch children's lives more than ever. As you continue shopping for holiday gifts for your loved ones, consider adding an extra plaything to the list—and click through our New York City toy drive guide to see where your family can drop it off.

Coalition for the Homeless Holiday Toy Drive

Each night, more than 20,000 children in New York sleep in emergency shelters, and toys are often lost in the shuffle. Families can help brighten these youngsters' holiday season by either purchasing a new, unwrapped toy from the wishlist or making a monetary donation to the Coalition. The toy drive will culminate in a carnival for homeless children, who will enjoy a special holiday lunch, face painters, carnival games and a visit from Santa before they each receive a present and a goody bag.

High Line Holiday Toy Drive

Bring a little joy to the lives of more than 300 children in need who live in the neighborhoods along the High Line by donating a new, unwrapped toy for a kid between the ages of 4 and 14. There are several ways to contribute: Bring a toy to the drop-off box inside Chelsea Market on weekends, or to Chelsea Market Baskets on weekdays; purchase a toy through Posman Books or Chelsea Market Baskets; donate money to the aforementioned purveyors; or shop the High Line Web Shop to purchase specially marked items for the toy drive. Plus, families can drop off donations at the High Line Holiday Concert on Sat Dec 8. All ages.


Spend the morning munching on pancakes, bacon and sausage with Santa. Then, assemble for a parade, with St. Nick and the Hungry March Band leading the way, and finish off the day with some traditional caroling at McCarren Park. Everyone is asked to bring an unwrapped toy to either the brunch or the parade. Parade will assemble at 424 Leonard St and finish at McCarren Park. All ages.

You can get gifts for every tyke on your list and give to those in need all in one place at this four-day pop-up shop. Actress Jennie Garth will open the toy store, which will feature the hottest gifts of the season, on Dec 6 at 2:30pm. At the front of the store, a Christmas tree displays ornaments featuring various toys. Just scan the ornament of your choice with your smartphone, and that toy is instantly donated to Toys for Tots, with eBay matching each donation. The pop-up shop is located at 675 Hudson St at 14th St. All ages.


Visit Build-A-Bear Workshop between Fri Dec 7 and Sun Dec 9 to drop off a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots—or make and purchase a furry friend to donate at the store! Volunteers from the U.S. Marine Corps will be on hand throughout the weekend to collect the donations, which will be distributed to local kids in need. All ages.

Bija Day of Giving

Gather for an afternoon of yoga and play at the kid-centric studio, and bring a donation for a toy drive to benefit the Ganga Learning Centre in Varanasi, India. All ages.


Spread a little holiday cheer to those who need it most through the JCC's toy drive. Donations of new, unwrapped toys (no stuffed animals, please!) will be distributed to organizations serving families affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and their children. Toys can be dropped off in the JCC lobby through Wed Dec 12. All ages.

Elisa Contemporary Art's new holiday exhibit, "A Toy Story and Other Delights," will have you reminiscing about childhood while creating new memories with your little one. The exhibit explores the transition between childhood and adulthood using playful imagery like a mountain of plastic toys and a dinosaur portrait. Through Dec 15, the gallery will be hosting a toy drive to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. All ages.

Santa Cruise

Santa usually travels by sleigh, but today he'll be getting in touch with his nautical side. During this holiday cruise, kids can have their photos taken with Santa, snack on milk and cookies, and revel in the holiday spirit. Families are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy as a donation to Toys for Tots. All ages.

Puppetry Arts Meet 'N Greet with Santa Claus

Santa and the puppet cast of the family musical FuzzBucket will be on hand to pose for pictures and chat with tots. Kids can talk to St. Nick and fuzzy friends Grizzel, Vierde and Tuffy Tiger about their holiday wish lists while they guzzle hot chocolate. Puppetry Arts asks that you invest in their community-outreach program by bringing containers of loose change to the event. A donation will automatically enter you to win a $50 7 Eleven gift card and a free puppet-making workshop for the school or your choice. Toys for Tots will also be there collecting new, unwrapped toys. All ages.

Wildlife Conservation Society Toy Drive
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher WCS

Wildlife Conservation Society Toy Drive

As if you needed further incentive to spend a day at the zoo, a chance to do good while there makes the decision even easier. From now through Mon Dec 31, the Wildlife Conservation Society is hosting a toy drive to benefit veterans, active-duty members of the military and their families, and victims of Hurricane Sandy. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, the Queens Zoo, or the New York Aquarium (aquarium donations will be accepted at Tom’s Diner in Coney Island, as the institution is currently closed) and watch as your tot gets that giving-back glow. An added bonus: Doing good will earn you a little something in return—for each toy you bring to one of the five locations, you’ll receive one free ticket to the Bronx Zoo. Seems like a win-win to us.

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