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August 15, 2022

Citywide toy drives are underway

House of Toys effort netted 3K gifts in 2020

A citywide effort that garnered thousands of toys in 2020 is back this year, and organizers hope to repeat its success to help families in need over the holiday season.

It joins other toy drives that are ongoing throughout South County as the holidays ramp up.

Mt. Madonna YMCA has partnered with the Gilroy After Hours Rotary, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and The Neon Exchange for its annual House of Toys drive. From now to Dec. 12, new toys, books and jackets can be dropped off at nearly 30 businesses throughout the city, which will then be gathered and transported to The Neon Exchange where families can shop for gifts in a confidential setting.

In 2020, the drive netted more than 3,000 toys and $1,500 in gift cards, according to Neon Exchange founder/CEO Toni Bowles.

“Parents will check-in, be greeted by volunteers in our community, guided through our elegantly decorated ballroom to shop and finish at one of our several wrapping stations set-up in the conference room,” Bowles said. “An event like this provides dignity, confidentiality and a memorable holiday experience to families who may be facing very difficult times especially in the face of recent traumatic events. The experience should be uplifting for everyone.” 

Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks on Dec. 13-15, including wrapping gifts, checking in parents and transporting toy bins to The Neon Exchange.

Parents in need of assistance this season are also encouraged to sign up for the drive.

To sign up as a volunteer or parent, or for a list of drop-off locations, visit

For information, call The Neon Exchange at 669.239.0007.

Also underway, the Edward Boss Prado Foundation is hosting its eighth annual Toys 4 Our Own drive for elementary school students.

New and unwrapped toys can be dropped off at various locations throughout South County.

For information, call foundation CEO Cecelia Ponzini at 408.670.0266.

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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