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Dear BRO Friends and Family,
We’re planning for our annual Christmas Toy Distribution and are preparing to provide gifts for 5,500 children in the Saint Louis area. In the process of this work we have been informed by the Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy that the building has been sold to the Missouri Botanical Garden and that we need to vacate the space by the end of January 2018.
The sale is a good move for the Presbytery but sad for us. It has, however, resulted in our looking over our financial situation and volunteer base and the realities that we have been facing. We find ourselves with a seriously depleting volunteer base. Current volunteers have been facing individual and family health issues and changing family circumstances. Prior to notice of the sale we had talked in theory about what our future might look like. We also find that funding sources have changed their focus, have taken on new agencies, or are also facing financial crises
Our current assets would allow us to continue for two, maybe three years, but we don’t believe that our current volunteer base would be able to support the effort that it would take. We would need to move, ideally to a free space. We know that any move would probably result in rent and utilities being added to an already tight budget. We don’t believe that we could handle the move with the resources available to us.
So, yes, we are preparing to close after providing mission to the St. Louis Area for 95 years. Our mission has changed through the years based on the needs of the community and other resources provided by social service and government agencies. Over the past several decades our focus has been on Christmas Gifts for kids and layettes for moms and their new babies. We’ve increased our Christmas giving from providing toys for 1800 to 5500 children. That’s a lot of Barbies, balls, Legos, books, puzzles, and games, not to mention, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and more! Not bad for a bunch of little old (and young) ladies ( and a few men) operating on a wing, a prayer and minimal funding.
We have decided to stop taking used toys, games, puzzles, books, etc. after November 1. We can take new items until Thanksgiving. (Our toy distribution is the week or two following Thanksgiving.) We still need volunteers for that event as we anticipate serving 5500 or more children.
Our remaining assets will be disbursed to various agencies/organizations that provide goods or services to children/youth in the St. Louis area. Our board has some ideas about how to do that, but we would like your input. So send us suggestions. Funds would need to be disbursed to groups that are organized as a 501 (c) (3) organization with the IRS. Groups would need to provide their FEIN number for our reports. Please send us those suggestions by December 1.
Our Board of Directors will be preparing a dissolution plan for a vote of the membership which you will receive in early 2018. While we have to be out of the building by the end of January we intend to thoughtfully disburse our assets in a manner that will honor the hearts of our donors, volunteers and children/youth in our community.
Board of Religious Organizations
4262 Cleveland Ave. St. Louis, MO 6311
Your donations will help us provide holiday gifts for over 5,000 children in 2017. Click on the photo above to donate on May 11, 2017 through the St. Louis Community Foundation and Give STL Day 2017.
Thank you for your continued support.
“Your individual effort enabled many smiles and great memories that will be cherished by these children. You truly made a difference that will follow the children for the rest of their lives.”
Robin Vannoy, Circuit Court Judge, St. Louis City Family Court
“Your donation of toys for all the children we serve made Christmas extra special for the families of Neighborhood Houses. BRO is such an incredible partner in ministry. We truly can’t thank you enough.”
Ellen Reed-Fox Vice President of Development of Neighborhood Houses.
“Thank you so much for your generosity. Because of you, our kids were all able to have a gift to open this holiday season!”
Katie Rahn, Executive Director of Southside Early Childhood Center.
Greetings BRO friends!
We’re in the process of compiling data from our 2016 Toy Distribution Days. We gave out toys to over 5000 children. Check back here a bit later for more data!
The photo above and below shows some of our awesome summer volunteers from www.amenstlouis.org
Our loyal local volunteers pack layettes for moms and newborns. We are prepared to help 500 newborns each year!
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
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.