How do toy drives distribute gifts?
November 30, 2021 9:29 AM   Subscribe

If I donate a video game or iPhone accessories will it go to a kid that can use it?

I was thinking about what I could donate this year and realized my budget isn’t large enough for a big item like a Switch but I could get a game or controller. But I have no idea how gifts are distributed, and I can imagine how much is would suck to be a kid with a new game and no way to play it. So how are these gifts passed out? Do groups look at kids wish lists and match things up or is it random? Looking back I’ve donated toys for years and never thought about this!
posted by lepus to Society & Culture (6 answers total)
Best answer: I volunteered for a toy drive years ago so some of this may not apply still. But it was one of two ways: matching through a wish list, or all the toys and items are sorted in a warehouse or other space for parents to go "shopping" for their kids for free. So if a parent knows that a kid needs an extra controller they can pick it up that way and kids aren't given something at random.
posted by Fuego at 9:46 AM on November 30, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Ditto what @Fuego said. It depends on the specific toy drive, but it's either parents choose, or work off a wishlist. Usually the specific method is not disclosed, but sometimes they are, like this one specifically stated that
Invited families all gathered at a disclosed located [sic] where they were able to select toys from their Christmas list for their children.
(It's been known some grifters "wish" for big-ticket items then try to sell them, so toy drives do verify information, to the best of their ability)
posted by kschang at 10:20 AM on November 30, 2021

I have run such a drive in the past for several years, and if you'd be purchasing such an item anyway, a gift card to the relevant store (best would be somewhere that has both used and new stuff and/or does trades) would be by far the easier thing to handle in either model. Kids/teens are pretty prone to asking for such items in vague terms, and even if a system/brand is identified, it's not uncommon for both parents and staff/volunteers to not know enough about the technology to make correct choices.
posted by teremala at 10:42 AM on November 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Gift cards! I know it feels impersonal, but it's what all teenagers actually want if they can't just get straight cash.
posted by decathecting at 11:58 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Toy drives are very appealing. You can maximize your gift by finding a reliable drive and giving them money. They might get a discount at the big store. They might have a kid with a very specific wish; money allows them to do their job better, and they'll stretch it as far as possible. Logistically, cash is easier, possibly safer, transportable.

Same with food banks. There are a bunch of shame-y memes around. Poor people have can openers. They like a variety of foods, etc. Food banks have electric bills. They have access to good food, but it has to be stored, sorted, etc. They'll make that cash go as far as it can go.
posted by theora55 at 1:13 PM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

The local toy drive charity here creates an Amazon wishlist for donors to purchase items from, which then go into a "shopping" setup for parents to choose from.
posted by telophase at 2:16 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

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