Toy drive begins to help young Harvey evacuees

Supplies at an Austin Disaster Relief Network drop-off site ready to be delivered to Harvey flood victims. (KXAN/Jorge Rodas)
Supplies at an Austin Disaster Relief Network drop-off site ready to be delivered to Harvey flood victims. (KXAN/Jorge Rodas)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin residents stepped up to make Hurricane Harvey evacuees feel comfortable by creating thousands of welcome kits, and now Mayor Steve Adler is challenging them to collect toys “so every Texas child displaced by Hurricane Harvey has the opportunity to continue being a kid during this difficult time.”

Adler is teaming up with Operation Blue Santa to collect the donations of new toys, board games, playing cards, sports balls, craft supplies, coloring books and puzzles. The goal is to collect items for children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. If there are any toys left over, they’ll go to families in need during the upcoming holiday season.

“Let’s make some happy memories for a lot of kids going through a tough time,” Adler said in a statement.

People can drop off donations to the Blue Santa Warehouse at 4101 S. Industrial Dr. #260 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donations will be accepted through Sept. 15. More information can be found on the Operation Blue Santa website or by calling 512-974-BLUE.

Just five days after Adler asked people to donate 6,000 supply kits filled with toiletries, supplies and notes of encouragement, Austinites came through with enough welcome kits for the Austin Disaster Relief Network to meet the needs of all the city’s expected evacuees. People also donated more than 500 animal crates to the Austin Animal Center.

“Austin, I love you,” said Adler. “We’ve heard reports stores sold out of blankets, towels, and pillows. So many people made welcome kits for our guests that the Austin Disaster Relief Network had to expand the drop-off locations from one to four. This kind of overwhelming response really makes our guests feel at home here in Austin.”

Adler added those who made welcome kits can still drop them off and they will go to shelters in other cities. A list of drop-off locations can be found here.

People can also donate to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Central Texas Food Bank through the #StandStrongTexas campaign.

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