Toys for Tots, a national program run by the US Marine Corps. Reserve, is a natural fit for Roosevelt Field, since there is an active base across the street from the mall. To create an event that would also generate media coverage and further community goodwill, we recommended to property management to tie the annual drive into Santa’s arrival at the mall for the holiday season and work with the local schools to further involve the community to help support the program.
After meeting with the local coordinator for the Toys for Tots program, we contacted several local elementary schools and offered them the opporutnity to participate. Working with two school principals, the fourth-grade student councils at two elementary schools eagerly agreed to hold a toy drive within the schools and bring their collection to the mall to kick-off the overall drive. We arranged for a Marine color guard, a giant toy box to collect the donations, a DJ from the local radio station to emcee the event and refreshments for the children. We always schedule the event so that Santa makes a grand entrance via the escalator and accepts the donations from the students to begin the drive, all while holiday music plays in the background. A media advisory drives local reporters to cover the event and a post-event photo release generates further coverage as well as fostering goodwill with the surrounding community.
The students bring hundreds of toys each year that we repeat this program with the number growing steadily. Since we work with the student council, it’s always different children that are able to participate each year in this rewarding charitable endeavor. The students are able to use their work for community service requirements at school and always tell reporters that they like doing something that helps other kids that are less forunate. Each year, the event generates solid publicity and over the years coverage has come from WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, Newsday and National Public Radio, to name a few. Due to the tremendous success of this program at Roosevelt Field, we have duplicated the program at several other Simon malls in the Northeast Region.