Santa Ana, CA and Franklin, TN – December 14, 2020
On December 15th, 2020 Technology Source, in partnership with Telecom for Change will sponsor the week-long fifth annual Techie Toy Drive. In years past, the event was held at The Centre – Home of Lexus in Escondido, California. Last year, the event was held at the private estate of a generous supporter. This year, due to stay-at-home orders in place for Covid-19 in the state, the event organizers have taken the event virtual. The goal of the Techie Toy Drive is to provide S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) gifts for children who need them most, such as foster and adoptive children, and this year, children whose families have been impacted by the coronavirus. The group says they want to provide gifts to, “kids who need to feel cared for during the holidays”.
The event’s new digital format has allowed the event to expand to add two additional non-profits in 2020. Straight From the Heart has been a four-time recipient of the S.T.E.M. toys. As a resource center for foster, adoptive, kinship children and their caregivers, the organization donates the toys directly to kids in need.
Techie Toy Drive held in 2018
Pattie Boles, director at the organization said that before the Techie Toy Drive, they “never got tech toys donated. And, like all kids in the universe, they [the techie toys] are the thing that our children want the most! We are grateful for this event for how they give back to our children. I cannot even tell you the smile that erupts when we hand a 16-year-old girl a Kindle Fire.”
Newly added this year, was the Downieville Lyons Club, which is in a rural community nestled in the Tahoe National Forest of Sierra County. The group plans to issue the toys to children who are currently paired with the community’s food bank, and who are signed up to receive toys from their annual “Wishes Tree”.
The third non-profit the organizers selected is New Orleans Louisiana-based Raintree Children and Family Services. Raintree will be giving the toys to children living in the Raintree House group foster home. This is a community-based group home to care for teenage girls who have been abused or neglected by their families of origin.
“Telecom for Change is thrilled to participate in this year’s Techie Toy Drive and the fact that we are sending STEM toys, well, that just gives me a serious case of the feels!,” says Angie Tocco, founder of the non-profit Telecom for Change, comprised of telecom agents and carriers that dedicate their time and resources to provide aid to grassroots charities across the US. “Sitting and solving math problems in a book may not be exciting for kids, but teaching a robot to move by learning lines of code certainly is. Let’s face it, the holidays can be tough, especially this year, so anything we can do to bring smiles to little faces is okay by me.”
In years past, guests were asked to bring brand new, unwrapped techie toys to the event. However, this year, participants are asked to ship the toys directly to the non-profits. Tech-related toys on the group’s wish list include Hexbug toys, Kindles or other similar tablets, Modern Art Connectagons, and other S.T.E.M. toys that can be enjoyed by children in various age groups.
STEM toys from the group’s event in years past.
“I learned about the foster and adoptive system firsthand. Over the last few years my husband and I opened our hearts to adopting our first child," said Sonya Ziegler Meline, Vice President at Technology Source and founder of the Techie Toy Drive annual event. "Knowing what these kids go though, and with the added pressures of 2020 on families this year, it’s hard to think of a more important time for our toy-drive. We will miss our big group photo with the mountain of STEM toys we collect. But on the upside, with this new format, we can expand our impact! Now anyone, willing and able, can participate! And we hope that each year we can add more recipients to and keep the positive momentum of this event!”
Meline, who is a mentor for Alliance of Channel Women and past vice president of the Microsoft’s Women in Technology IAMCP San Diego Community, emphasizes that the S.T.E.M. toys are distributed equally to all genders. “Getting all genders interested in technology at a young age is important to our mission with the Techie Toy Drive” says Meline.