Six hundred children, who are either hospitalised, living in residential care, refugee centres or domestic violence shelters, will be receiving a special Christmas gift picked by other children as a sign of solidarity.
The gifts were collected through the Toys for Tots community initiative spearheaded by two young mothers, Alison Lowell and Gianella Giordano, to teach their children about the importance of giving to others during the festive season.
“Toys for Tots Malta started in 2021. I was inspired by my son. You know how children are? They always want things. I wanted to instil in him, from a young age, the concept of giving to others,” says Alison.
After she spoke to her friend, Gianella, the two women set up Toys for Tots and started contacting non-governmental organisations that often get forgotten at this time of year.
Together with the NGOs, they drew up a list of children and their Christmas wishes, coded them and shared the wishes on the group Facebook page from where members of the public could commit to fulfil one of the wishes.
“We insist on involving the children in buying and wrapping the gifts. We ask that the gifts are new and not second hand, just as they would be for a loved one.”
Many children have made cards for those receiving a gift.
Alison, who involves her five-year-old son in the process, said that in the first year the response was overwhelming, with nearly 500 gifts collected.
The second edition has seen 600 gifts being bought with the support of more mothers who include Melinda Agius and Carmen Mifsud. Volunteers will start collecting those gifts on Monday and will then pass them on to the relevant NGOs.
The community-driven project mirrors the Children’s Dreams Malta scheme that allows members of the public to donate specific gifts requested by children identified by the Foundation for Social Welfare Services. This year, the public pledged to fulfil all the 1,830 dreams within a few days of the launch on October 23.