For 22 years, the residents of Pelican Bay have been organizing their own Toys for Tots Toy Drive.
Q&A with Joanne Hobin
We recently met with Joanne Hobin of Pelican Bay to ask how she has gone about organizing this huge endeavor since 1997.
What is step 1?
Communicate early and often.
We have 36 Volunteer Coordinators, one for each condominium building and subdivision. Fortunately, with the help of Sharron Hood, of eBella Magazine, we are able to communicate via the Pelican Bay Newsletter and supplement with ConstantContact emails to our residents.
How do you recruit volunteers?
Make it fun!
Giving can be contagious! This year we are having a cocktail party at Paradise Wine in the Pavilion Shopping Center to kick-off our toy drive. Long time residents will undoubtedly share stories of Christmas past with new residents. Everyone leaves with a sense of community and “doing the most good.”
Pelican Bay Toy Drive Tips from Joanne (2015 Drive):
- Schedule an informational meeting for Volunteer Coordinators in November. We always hold it on Veteran’s Day. Just seemed appropriate considering The Marine Corps Reserves founded Toys for Tots. It’s our way of honoring their service to our country.
- Once a week position a Volunteer Coordinator in your Community Center lounge (or main drop off location for your community) for an hour. The purpose it to receive feedback from the neighbors, answer questions, assist with problems, etc. A good story to share makes everyone smile, too.
- Designate a main location inside your community to drop off FULL toy boxes. This year I am working with Major Francina Proctor and Maria Ramos, of The Salvation Army, the authorized Marine Toys for Tots Foundation agent, to arrange for their truck to pick up and deliver to the Toy Shop for distribution.
- Encourage everyone to give early. Sooner is better than later. It takes time to distribute to the 6000+ registered children in the Immokalee and Naples area. This year’s Toy Shop occupies 20,000 sq ft and is starting to fill up with food and toy donations. Maria Ramos oversees the operation of packing bags of toys for each of the 2,200 families (as of November 9, 2015). It’s quite a task!