Fill Santa's Sleigh: Arizona Helping Hands to give toys for thousands in foster care

It's the season of giving, and Arizona Helping Hands hopes to give more than 3,000 foster children gifts across the state.

On Dec. 6, the nonprofit held their annual "Fill Santa's Sleigh" event. Officials say the need from the community is greater than ever as families feel the impacts from inflation.

For some, this is the first ever Christmas gift a child has received, and this year, the need is growing.

"They are stepping up to make sure that every foster child in our state is going to thrive always," said Bethany Eggleston with Arizona Helping Hands.

There are more than 12,000 children in the Arizona Dept. of Child Safety's foster care system.

Arizona Helping Hands helps bring essential supplies to those in care, and their Christmas drive-thru toy collection is always a huge success. They hope to help more than 3,000 kids this Christmas.

"So our next step is…we will get them all sorted and then on the 15, 16,17th of this month we have foster families who are invited to come in who have pre-registered," said Matt Lipan. "They will come in, and they will have a shopping experience where they can shop for their kiddos."

Board member Kevin Fox was once a foster child himself and sees the impacts firsthand.

"The support and the love that these children get is what they need to thrive, and we just need more of it," Fox said.

In a post-pandemic world, inflation is also hitting the toy market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, toy prices in October were more than 3% higher than this time last year.

To combat this, several toy makers are stepping up to help families struggling to afford toys, unveiling a line of over 200 smaller and more affordably priced items for $10 or less.

"We are seeing an increased need, we are seeing an increased demand," said Bethany Eggleston. "We released the tickets open to be a part of our shopping event…we sold out in a week. To me, what that says is that need is there. These families need our help."

Want to drop off toys? Donations are still being accepted at the nonprofit's location at 3110 E Thunderbird Road, Suite 100

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