How to help: collect toys for Harvey and Irma’s displaced children

Toys for Harvey survivors in a bin at the Blue Santa operations center (KXAN Photo)
Toys for Harvey survivors in a bin at the Blue Santa operations center (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin is working to better manage donations so they get to those in need.

Toys are part of that and right now Austin is collecting and sorting toys for children staying at the city’s shelter who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Ben Ornelas has volunteered for Operation Blue Santa for more than 20 years. Normally, Blue Santa is all about Christmas, but this September mission is one of the more memorable and meaningful operations for Ornelas.

“This is going to make a lot of kids very happy,” Ornelas said.

Each item he sorts will go to a child left stranded by Harvey being house in Austin’s shelter.

“Once they realize where it’s coming from, I think they’ll see that they have a lot of support from all over the country – we’re just a small part,” he said.

There’s no telling how many toys will come in, but Mike Sheffield hopes is enough to put a smile on the faces of flood survivors at Austin’s shelter, and others in throughout the state. Sheffield is APD’s Community Liaison Unit Manager. He feels kids at the shelters aren’t the only children benefiting from this effort. He says children are donating, and learning a valuable lesson.

“Hopefully we’re raising a generation that does believe in, you know, helping out their neighbor in times of misfortune – that they reach out and try to do good things for those folks that are suffering,” Sheffield said.

The city says they need things like, toys, board games, sports balls and other items. Operation Blue Santa was tasked by Austin Mayor Steve Adler to manage the toy drive. There’s more information on the Operation Blue Santa website. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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