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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., June 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Tens of thousands of children in foster care throughout Southern California and across 10 states will receive the gift of play thanks to nearly 300 local toy industry volunteers who rolled up their sleeves today at the annual "Play Your Part LA" event hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) in partnership with National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA).
Nearly 50 toy companies participated in the event, through either a toy donation, sponsorship, or volunteer effort — including Bandai, Educational Insights, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, Nickelodeon, and Spin Master. Industry-wide volunteers sorted toys and wrote comforting letters of support at "inspiration stations." These toys and letters were placed in special care packages that are being shipped to 50 National CASA chapters. In total, more than 60,000 toys were donated in order to make this event possible, thanks to TIF's Toy Bank donors, comprised of generous manufacturers, retailers, and distributors.
About 100 LA-area foster children were present at the event to receive action figures, arts and crafts, board games, dolls, puzzles, and more. They also enjoyed fun-filled, company-sponsored activities and games led by the volunteers. The special day included a live DJ that kept volunteers hard at work and a sponsored lunch. CASA volunteers were also on-site to answer questions about the foster care system. The event location was generously donated by Beverly Hills Transfer and Storage and SmartBox, which also provided considerable resources.
"Children in foster care have to face very grown-up problems at such a young age, robbing them of a carefree childhood," says Jean Butler, executive director of the Toy Industry Foundation. "It is our hope that the toys provided through this event bring comfort and happiness to these deserving children as they await placement in loving, permanent homes."
Says Dan Cote, an employee at Spin Master and event volunteer: "Play Your Part is more rewarding every year. It is a refreshing burst of activity that reminds us why we are in this business."
According to the Administration for Children and Families, 2016 marked the third consecutive year that the number of children in foster care increased by an average of 3.4 percent, with more than 650,000 children entering the U.S. system. Studies show that youth in foster care are more likely to be incarcerated, encounter substance abuse, struggle academically, and have developmental, mental, and physical challenges.
Since partnering with National CASA in 2013, the Toy Industry Foundation has provided $3.5 million in toys to benefit 350,000 foster children served by National CASA programs. Additionally, the Foundation has provided $1 million in grant funding to National CASA, enabling them to recruit and train needed CASA volunteers to stand up for the needs and rights of abused and neglected children.
"So much of what we do involves the serious and daunting tasks of advocating for the most vulnerable children in America," says Tara Perry, CEO of the National CASA Association. "It is such an important partnership, and amazing experience, to work with the Toy Industry Foundation to bring some joy into these children's lives."
The Toy Industry Foundation works year-round with partners and international charities to bring new toys and games to children who are impoverished, at-risk, in hospitals, in military families, and otherwise in need. To date, the Foundation has provided more than $200 million in toys to 23 million children in need.
The event's specialty sponsors included Nickelodeon, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, and Munchkin. "Big heart" and activity station sponsors included Bandai Foundation, Funrise, NBCUniversal, Educational Insights, and Insect Lore. "Open heart" sponsors were OOLY, Uncle Milton, Women in Toys, Thames & Kosmos, Cloud b, Silverlit, and TOMY.
About Toy Industry Foundation www.toyindustryfoundation.org
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is a 501c3 children's charity whose mission is to provide joy and comfort to children in need through the experience of toys and play. TIF serves children who are undergoing complicated medical procedures, enduring temporary home placements in the foster care system, suffering from abuse or neglect, experiencing separation from a deployed military parent, or have had their lives disrupted by a devastating natural disaster. To date, TIF's signature program, The Toy Bank, has provided $200 million in toys to 23 million children in need around the globe, thanks to its generous toy donors.
About National CASA Association for Children www.casaforchildren.org
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA), together with its state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive. Today, 77,000 court appointed special advocate and guardian ad litem volunteers serve more than 251,000 children, but more than 400,000 children are without a volunteer advocate. National CASA is working in partnership with its state and local programs in 49 states and D.C. to close that gap.
SOURCE Toy Industry Foundation