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PRISM plans ‘fill-the-truck’ pop-ups for annual toy drive

Sun Post | Alaina Rooker | November 9th, 2021


PRISM Food Shelf is ramping up its annual holiday gift drive with several “fill-the-truck” events this November. The Golden Valley nonprofit organization has hosted the Holiday Toy Shoppe for more than a decade to help families maintain holiday traditions regardless of their financial situations. The shoppe is open to all children living with a parent or guardian in the northwest Twin Cities suburbs of New Hope, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley and Plymouth. “Last year we served about 300 families. This year our goal is 350,” PRISM Advancement Manager Alisha Weis said. “That’s about 850 to 1,000 children, depending on family size.” Weis added that the need has always been greater than what PRISM can provide. A few years ago, the agency decided to shift away from relying on Toys for Tots to donate toys. Now, the responsibility of meeting donation needs has fallen almost entirely to the community. This new direction has some advantages, like an increase in the quality of gifts, but it requires PRISM to be creative to attract participants.

Previous “fill-the-truck” events had been successful, so PRISM decided to partner with a local Two Men and a Truck franchise this year to offer “fill-the-truck.” To participate, one only needs to find the truck in the parking lot of participating locations. What is needed? Opportunities to donate are happening much earlier in the season due to anticipated supply chain issues with toys and gifts due to the pandemic. Typically, the drive begins after Thanksgiving. Weis said organizers of the toy drive were decided to start, but not so early that people weren’t ready to participate. Gifts that are needed or tend to go quickly are gifts for teens, headphones, LEGO products, Nerf guns and stocking stuffers.

“Teen gifts are pretty standard when you’re doing toy drives. We often forget the teenagers, but really all areas are needed,” said Weis. “With our registration numbers, we’re pretty even across all the different age brackets, so as much variety and different items that we can get is helpful.” Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at any of the five “fill the truck” events this month. Donations can also be dropped off at PRISM, 1220 Zane Ave. N., Golden Valley.

Those looking for a way to donate to the toy drive without attending a “fill-the-truck” event can send funds to PRISM at prismmpls.org/donate, and indicate that the donation is for children’s programs.

A registry with gift ideas can be found at linktr.ee/prismmpls. The registry can be used as a reference, or items can be purchased directly from it and shipped to PRISM. Weis said the nonprofit staff members shopped for about $20,000 in gifts last year. This year, the goal was raised to $25,000.

“We’ve got it down to a science,” Weis said of the shopping trips she and staff embark on across the metro.

Parents or guardians that would like to receive donations for their children can do so until slots have been filled. Registration began in late October and will continue through the month until capacity is reached. Register at prismmpls.org/hts20210registration.

Pick-up events are scheduled for mid-December at PRISM. Visit prismmpls.org.

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