Making a Difference One Toy at a Time

Posted January 4, 2018

Supporting our military is more than a prayer, a thank you or flying the flag proudly. At Veterans Funeral Care supporting those who serve includes running Operation Toy Soldier, a not-for-profit charity that collects toys for local military families at Christmas. This year over 1,600 toys were donated and distributed to deserving families in the Tampa Bay area. “This is not charity,” explained project manager Nancy Weil, “It’s the community’s way of saying thank you for your service.”

The entire staff got involved in the project and helped to pick up, sort, count and distribute the dolls, cars, balls, puzzles and more that filled the office. Local vet centers brought toys back to the families that use their services. MacDill Air Force Base had a full day of “shopping” as parents stopped by and selected toys for their kids. While Coast Guard and other reserve units made sure the children of their personnel had something special this year. Some of the toys were taken to homeless veteran families for whom the need is the greatest. Others found their way to children who are staying at the local Fisher Houses at Bay Pines VA Medical Center and James A. Haley VA Medical Center while their parent receives treatments there. Every single toy was given with love and every single one was received with gratitude.

“My heart is about bursting with joy to see the success of this year’s event,” said Jim Rudolph. He has been instrumental in getting Operation Toy Soldier running at Veteran Funeral Care affiliated funeral homes across the country. No matter if they collected 100 or 1,000 or even their 10,000th toy, every location that has taken on this project has made a positive impact on their community.

As this year’s toy drive concludes, plans are already under way for the next one. Operation Toy Soldier has consistently grown not just by the efforts of the sponsoring funeral homes, but by every business that opens their door to accept donations, by every person who buys and drops off a toy or two and by every veterans group that helps to make sure the toys make it into the homes of our military service members. Together we have made a powerful impact…one toy at a time.