Toy drives in Boston spark holiday cheer during tough times

BOSTON, MA: December 11, 2020: Raylan Allen, 4, of Jamaica Plain, receives a present during an event hosted by Local 26 outside of the Marriott Copley Hotel where presents were given to fired workers of the Hotel and their families in Boston, Massachusetts. Raylan’s mother, Kiki was fired after 16 years on the job at the hotel. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

A toy drive for recently fired Boston hotel workers and their children brought a spark of holiday spirit in tough times as the call for donations also circulates across the city.

Friday’s toy drive at the Marriott Copley and Revere Hotel organized by UNITE HERE Local 26 joined together struggling hotel employees who have lost work due to the pandemic, some after years of service in the industry.

Santa Claus handed out gifts to the workers and their families outside the hotel, earning smiles from behind face masks.

Local 26 is supporting legislation in January to ensure cities have the right to pass recall protections for hospitality workers. With protections in place, Massachusetts could allow hotel workers to return to their positions once the COVID-19 crisis is over, if and when their positions return.

Additional toy drives and volunteer opportunities for the holidays are in full swing across the city.

Marine Toys For Tots is still accepting new, unwrapped gift donations with the tour bus heading to Avon, Revere and Norwood this weekend through the beginning of next week.

Last year, the organization distributed more than 153,000 toys, supporting 76,000 kids in need.

Christmas in the City won’t be able to host its annual event in person this year, but will be working with Boston shelters to bring gifts and a festive meal, for which it is currently accepting financial donations.

Action for Boston Community Development  is asking for a $40 donation this year instead of a toy in an effort to provide gift cards that parents can use to buy toys for their children while also supporting local businesses.

Last year, ABCD helped 1,000 Boston households.

Many Boston shelters such as Pine Street Inn are unable to accommodate in-person volunteers for the holiday season due to the pandemic, but are accepting food donations.