Clink on the photo above to donate to BRO
In 2015 we donated toys, books, puzzles and games to over 5,500 children in the St. Louis area. We support the work of many St. Louis area social service agencies. Our focus is on children ages newborn – 10 years of age. The photo above shows some of our 2015 Summer Mission volunteers. This group was from Heritage Presbyterian Church, Olathe, Kansas. The teens and their leaders had just returned from a marathon shopping experience at the Goodwill Outlet in search of stuffed animals! We scored!
5,000 St. Louis area children-in-need will receive holiday toys and gifts from the BRO. We are always looking for new and used toys, book, dolls, stuffed animals and stocking stuffers for children ages newborn- 10 years of age. We work with St. Louis area social service agencies to provide these items for their clients and families.
We are located at 4262 Cleveland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110, in the lower level of the Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy on Tower Grove Ave, across from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
We are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 AM – 2 PM. We are closed most holidays. Contact us by phone at 314-865-1677 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5,500 Kids Smile in 2015
Our donors and volunteers are awesome! Yes, you there, reading this newsletter, thank you! We love our donors and volunteers. With your help we were able to provide toys/gifts for over 5,500 kids (newborn – 10 years).
During our Toy Distribution Days, November 30 – December 11 we were prepared to give out toys to nearly 2800 children, representing approximately 1,200 families. These families were served through various St. Louis Social Agencies (see article later in this newsletter).
So, what do you give to all those kids? We had the following treasures in our inventory!
- 3000 new toys
- 1073 games and puzzles
- 3,000 new and gently used books
- 2042 stuffed animals, various sizes and styles
- 2000 hats, scarves and gloves
- 760 stockings filled with goodies for girls and boys
HOW IT ALL WORKS AT TOY DISTRIBUTION
Each day Maggie Bauer, our Distribution Scheduler, gives a stack of index cards to Nancy Wicks. Each card represents a family served by the agency picking up toys at that particular time. The card has the family name and a list of the number of girls and boys in the family and their ages. Each volunteer gets a card from Nancy and carefully studies the list to determine which items the family receives. The volunteer carries a box from station to station throughout BRO and collects items for the family. At the Main Station, Louise and Jean select a new toy for each child on the card. In addition, each family receives a puzzle or game based on the ages and number of children in the family. If there are 4-6 year olds in the family, they receive a Christmas stocking stuffed with fun toys, games, coloring book and crayons. The volunteer puts those in their shopping box and heads to the next station. The volunteers visit the hat/glove station, the stuffed animal station, as well as the book room with Shirley and the reconditioned doll section with LaVerne.
After the volunteers have gathered all of the goodies together in their box they head to the packing station. There the “packers” determine the size bag (anywhere from a handled paper bag to a 39 gallon trash bag) needed to hold all the goodies. Items are packed carefully, with heavy stuff on the bottom, stuffed animals protecting the bags from box corners, and books tucked in between. The name card is then taped and stapled to the bag, and the name “double checked” off of Maggie’s list, to insure every family receives their gifts. At this point the Social Worker from the agency along with their helpers, load the goodies into whatever vehicle they have available. Sometimes a rental truck or large van is waiting, or multiple personal vehicles. Multiple trips are often made to and from the agency and BRO.
The numbers vary from day to day between 400 – 600 children. Our volunteers are from the various congregations who support us in our work. Usually we have 15 volunteers each day. Numerous snacks and donut holes keep the volunteers nourished for their work.
We Provide Gifts for Kids Through These Agencies
People’s Community Action Corporation: 849 children, 631 families
Southside Early Childcare Center: 93 children, 73 families
St. Louis Empowerment Center: 20 children, 10 families
Little Angels Learning Center: 163 children, 51 families
Youth and Family Center: 201 children, 76 families
Children’s Division of Family Services – Department of Social Services: 17 children, 9 families
St. Philippines: 8 children, 8 families
Paw Paw Learning Center: 725 children, 82 families
Sister-Fix-It Helping Ministries: 637 children, 176 families
So…What’s the Story on the Storage Unit
Storage unit you ask? Well, yes there is one. We rent it from EZ Storage on Chippewa near Oak Hill in the Tower Grove South Neighborhood. The rental is $131 per month. It’s conveniently located for Rick Soles, our loyal volunteer (who happens to be married to BRO President, Donna Cook). Rick hauls the toys from BRO to storage on his way to and from Oak Hill Church or lunch in the neighborhood with his dad and his home in the Affton/Lemay area. We store toys for approximately 2250 children in the unit. Rick also schedules the groups to pick up their toys from this location and meets and assists them with loading of trucks and cars when they pick up their goodies for the holidays.
The following agencies give out these gifts at special events, at after school programs or community outreach centers.
Circuit Court of St. Louis – Family Court : 300
Urban League-North County: 300
AGAPE in Motion: 72
Neighborhood Houses After School Programs: 1554
Community Helping Ministry : 200
Gateway/Hubert Wheeler State School for the Severely Disabled: 33
Joint Neighborhood Ministries: 50. Isaiah 58 Ministries: 50
St. Vincent DePaul – Normandy : 20
(Photo shows wet toys in process of sorting)
June 17, 2013 much of the St. Louis area was hit by 3 inches of rain in 1 hour. The BRO had a storage rental unit on Landsdowne near Kingshighway which was flooded with about 8 inches of water during this weather event. Water poured into the area, which sat below street level. The street and storage unit drainage system was unable to handle the volume of rain, and the water quickly rose to be chest high. Many of you may have seen the videos and photos of flooded streets in South St. Louis. Our storage unit took on about 8 inches of water. The unit sat on a slab of concrete about 4 inches high and inside the unit the toys were stacked on wooden skids. We lost about one-third of the toys that we had stored there.
(Photo shows dry toys sorted onto tables)
The storage unit manager originally informed unit renters that Metropolitan Sewer District was taking responsibility for the flooding in the units. I informed MSD via email that we had experienced a loss at our location. In a letter dated June 20, 2013 MSD states:
“In response to your call, a crew from the Maintenance Department of Metropolitan Sewer District inspected the main sewer serving the above address (4677 Lansdowne). The report states that the main line was overcharged due to the amount of rain we received. An overcharged condition occurs when Water infiltrates into the main sewer system. Corporate Claims Management (CCNI), MSD’s claim company, will contact you to file a claim for any damages you may have incurred.”
In phone conversations with both MSD and CCMI, it was indicated that we would be covered for up to $2400 in damages, which included damages to the goods stored and the cost of cleanup, including the value of your own time if you performed the cleanup yourself. Needless to say this sounded really good.
In the meantime we documented the damaged toys in photographs, listed each item or groups of items, listed their retail value and filed the claim, along with 31 photos. Shortly thereafter I received a call from a CCMI representative saying that we were in fact not covered and that the damage was not due to an overcharged sewer. They were polite and complimentary about my detailed claim but gave an unclear explanation as to who or what was responsible. It may have been the fault of the drainage system at the storage unit, but they didn’t want to come out and say that specifically. CCMI or MSD is supposed to be sending me documentation about why our claim is being denied.
As of August 8, we have not received that documentation.
We are estimating that the damaged toys were worth $2,000 – $3,000. In our claim to MSD we valued the toys at $1892. We estimated between 40 and 50 cleanup hours by our volunteers.
The value of the time it took to “hunt and gather” the toys, label, pack, and move to storage originally: priceless.
Short You Tube Video of BRO Storage Unit after we first opened it.
Read the rest of the story here, about how we destroyed the toys, help received from a mission team from First Presbyterian Church, Topeka, Kansas, and our hopes for the future.
BRO Special Report Click here to see our newsletter telling the whole story
We’ll need help to recover to be ready for the holidays. We plan on giving out toys to 5,000 children. Your donation of new and gently used toys are always welcome. We also can use stuffed animals, games, puzzles, and books. We are confident we will be ready for 2013 and move forward into 2014.
Thank you for your consideration.