Miami’s “largest and most meaningful holiday toy drive” may be more meaningful in post-pandemic years than in most others – and its Amigos for Kids organizers need community support.
A Miami nonprofit organization has worked for 30 years to fulfill the wishes of thousands of South Florida children who might not otherwise have a Christmas. Amigos for Kids accomplishes this with community support. The Shenandoah Park–based organization is this month seeking contributions to its annual toy drive.
Contributors can purchase wish-specific children's gifts from Amazon Smiles or make cash contributions through the Amigos for Kids website. Corporate sponsors, volunteers, and donation drop-offs in Dade and Broward Counties are also welcome, according to Amigos for Kids.
“The South Florida community is super giving, very philanthropic,” Amigos for Kids Executive Director Karina Pavone told NBC-6 South Florida. “It’s always nice to see such an outpouring of support from our community.”
Amigos for Kids was established in 1991 to respond to the needs of South Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected, and underprivileged children and their families.
The organization offers after-school care and parenting workshops that are intended to strengthen and educate families.
Information from the Florida Department of Children and Families, an Amigos for Kids partner agency, shows that verified reports of child maltreatment in Miami-Dade County have largely declined since around the start and end of the Great Recession and increases that occurred again during a 2013-2014 area heroin epidemic.
Poverty can increase the likelihood of maltreatment, particularly when people are isolated and experience mental health and substance abuse issues, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau.
American Community Survey information gathered by Miami-Dade Matters reflects countywide poverty rate declines that correspond to an extent with child maltreatment allegations.
A Florida Governor’s Office 2020 Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Plan on the other hand cited a need to remedy mental health and perhaps related substance use issues that became more prevalent in South Florida and elsewhere during COVID-19.
The latter became so problematic that 6,256 predicted overdose deaths between the years ending in April 2020 and 2021 in Florida increased to 7,892, a 26.15 percent increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration reported an alarming increase in counterfeit pills that can contain lethal amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl.
“As we continually look for ways to better the communities we serve, it’s so important for us to partner with organizations that share our commitment to our children and education. . .,” FPL Spokesperson Mariela Quintanilla wrote in an e-mail.
FPL is among this year's Amigos for Kids toy drive sponsors. Additional sponsors include Miami-Dade County District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins and organizations such as South Motors, the Vista Motor Co., and White Rock Quarries in Hialeah.
Amigos for Kids is according to Pavone collecting toys through Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. The organization has announced on Facebook that it is seeking bicycles, tricycles, scooters, sports balls, and board games.
Amigos for Kids intends to distribute the toys on Saturday, Dec. 11, and Thursday, Jan. 6. The latter marks the Epiphany, which commemorates the first manifestations of Jesus and his divinity.
For more information, to contribute, or to obtain a list of donation drop-off sites, visit www.amigosforkids.org.