Written by: Julie Wu
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Patrick McShane
Every year, the Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools in Monrovia, CA, and Walnut, CA, collaborate together with the local fire department’s Spark of Love Toy Drive, inviting children to select their favorite toys and donate them to children from underprivileged families, and through their donation learn compassion, sharing and the feeling of joy from helping others.
Sending Love to Families in Need
The continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic inflation and economic issues have caused significant hardships for many underprivileged and working-class families. As these families often struggled to purchase daily necessities, Christmas gifts or toys were a luxury few could afford. The children of two Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools brought their love together and distributed it to children in need so that they too could have a happy and warm holiday season.
2022 is the 30th anniversary of the Spark of Love Toy Drive held by local fire departments in Southern California. This year, two Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools collaborated with their local fire departments’ toy drives, encouraging students to donate their toys. The toy drive obtained the full support of the parents, who all affirmed that it was a good learning opportunity. They eagerly participated with their children, hoping that their children would learn to love others as themselves from a young age. At the same time, this event could be a learning opportunity where the spirit of compassion and character education could be taught to the students. The teachers and parents explained the meaning of donating toys and encouraged students to choose the toys they wanted to donate. Parents prepared the toys for their children and sent them to school, then teachers let the children put them in the donation bin. The children were excited to give their love to families in need.
Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool teacher Chen Yun Xie said, “This year’s toy drive activity is related to our character education this month, our theme is ‘Speak good words, think good thoughts, do good deeds’; through this activity, children learned to have good intentions in mind and hand deliver to children who need the gifts”.
Teaching Generosity From a Young Age
According to Guo Ling Hong, a Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool parent, “We are very happy to participate in this activity. I brought my child to choose toys and he was very happy to know how to help others and let other children have toys too.”
Preschool student Ning Han Hong put toys on the donation table: “I brought a Rapunzel puzzle, a racing car toy, and a mask that you can draw on. Because some people don’t have toys, so I brought toys to help them.” On the last day of the event, the assistant principal of Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Monrovia brought all the toys to the fire department, and the firefighters helped carry the donations.
Debbie Lee, CEO of the Tzu Chi Education Foundation, along with the principal of Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Walnut, and a group of volunteer representatives took the students and parents to the local fire department. Together they delivered the gifts donated by the children and also presented the firefighters with cards made by the teachers and students of the Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools, along with beautiful cards prepared by the Tzu Chi Education Foundation and Jing Si gifts for the fire department staff. The Spark of Love Toy Drive has warmed the hearts of many children living in precarious economic circumstances for many years, allowing them to feel the love and care of the community during the holidays, and remember that they are not forgotten.