The Summit Adventure Park Holiday Lane Toys for Tots Drive, Dec. 19, 12-3 p.m. at 11162 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, is sure to bring some sunshine to the lives of area youth and families. Featuring a balloon artist, pictures with Santa, free goodies, prizes, and discounted trampoline jumping, this festive event promises fun for all. Yet the event’s true source of sunshine lies at its purpose, heart, and core.
Holiday Lane represents the union of community businesses presented by Summit, Citarella Termite and Pest Management, Toys for Tots, and Safeguard Softwash, and featuring a live remote from Citrus 95.3, who are coming together to make sure that needy children in Hernando and Pasco counties have toys waiting for them under the tree this Christmas.
“It is important to us that we support our community and the families who live here,” said Atlanta McDonald, account executive at Hits 106, parent station of Citrus 95.3. “We heard there was an extra need this year, because of Covid-19, jobs have been lost, shelters are closed, and people have been displaced. If we can help a child or help a family, have a better Christmas, we want to do that.” Tania Cabrera, General Manager of Summit Adventure Park, the Trampoline park located on Spring Hill Drive at Four Corners next to Planet Fitness, agrees.
“Summit Adventure Park is very excited and proud to be part of Toys for Tots, this year hasn’t been easy for anyone and we want to make kids happy,” she said. “A lot of parents lost their jobs because of the pandemic and it breaks our heart knowing there is going to be a lot of kids without Christmas presents. Our purpose is to see kids smiling, let them know they are not alone and we are here for them.” Guests who bring unwrapped toys can register to win lots of fun prizes at Holiday Lane.
“We are collecting toys, and we have some really awesome raffles to give away!” said McDonald. “We want to make this a fun and free event, for kids in the community. We will give away free goodies to the kids and offer discounted jumping.”
Five Summit birthday party packages of 10 Jumpers will be available. Citarella Termite and Pest Management is giving away a bicycle, Safeguard Soft Wash is giving away Visa gift cards.
“Every time someone brings an unwrapped toy they can register to win one of these prizes,” said Cabrera.
And Holiday Lane itself, McDonald promises, will be a festive wonderland for young guests.
“Holiday Lane is a row of festively decorated parking spaces, with local business partners. We will have artisan vendors for holiday décor, Southern Star Fish apparel, Awesome Austin the balloon artist, Build A Bear Truck, Pictures with Santa, and so much more!!” she said. “Citrus 95.3 is hosting a live radio broadcast and playing music for us.” And as per current global conditions, safety will be paramount at Holiday Lane. “We are serious about safety! This is an outdoor event in our huge parking lot of Seven Hills Plaza,” said McDonald. “We will have hand sanitizer stations, and spread 6 ft apart in the parking spaces.”
So how urgent is the need for holiday toys in this community? In the Dec. 7 Hernando Sun article, Marine Corps League Sees Increased Need for Toys This Year by Sarah Nachin detailed the efforts of Spring Hill Marine Corps League 708 to collect enough toys for those registered for service with Hernando TFT.
“As the demand for toys has increased, the supply this year has dwindled,” Nachin wrote. “Plus, due to Covid restrictions, some businesses have been hesitant to allow donation boxes at their location. However, people wanting to give to the Toys for Tots drive can still drop off presents to a number of places. For information on these locations click on the following link: https://spring-hill-fl.toysfortots.org Then in the top menu, click on “Ways to Donate” under this drop-down menu click on “Donate a Toy.”
At the time of the article’s publication, more than 2,100 children were registered to receive toys in Hernando County. And in neighboring Pasco, the need is also great.
Stephanie Roshell, assistant to Land O’Lakes area captain Herbert Roshell at Pasco Toys for Tots acknowledges that the need for Toys for Tots services is overwhelming this year. “Yes, the need for assistance has been great. People are not able to provide gifts for their children as in time past as many are out of work,” she said. “This year, in Pasco, we have had businesses that were major supporters, not participate this year due to their workers being remote, financial losses, and or being closed. The “wishes” of the families have also changed. People are not just asking for toys- but basic needs – blankets, food, etc. Children are asking for phone chargers, laptops, iPod charging cases, phone holders, etc. to aid in their online learning.”
In addition, current global conditions are rendering it more difficult for donors to give. “People are not shopping in physical stores as in times past, so the opportunity to place a toy in the box, has decreased tremendously,” said Roshell. “Stores are concerned with people coming in to drop off toys so many businesses have not registered to be a toy drop box location.”
Still and all, Toys 4 Tots along with friends and supporters in the community, is determined to deliver some Christmas morning sunshine to each and every child.
“We still have a growing need in our communities to help bring a smile – especially as we have had to isolate and change the way we do things as a way of life. We are striving harder than ever to meet the needs of our families,” said Roshell. “We know there are still some great community partners out there that will help us bring light and hope to homes within our community for Christmas.”