Christmas in the City Toy Drive

Independent Perspective 1724 with guest Kevin Smith about WNYIL's participation in the "Fruit of the City" Christmas in the City Toy Drive.

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Kevin Smith, Director of Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC) and I’m your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Kevin.

Guest:  Thanks for having me Ernie.

Host:  And you're here because you are the point man for WNYIL and its involvement in Christmas in the City. Some people may be familiar with that, but it's largely an effort of I believe the Fruit Belt Coalition for people that are not in from the city of Buffalo, what is the Fruit Belt? Does it refer to the part of Buffalo where the orchards are?

Guest: (Laughter) Not the orchards Ernie. The Fruit Belt is one of the historic communities in the city of Buffalo. I guess the easiest way to explain it for people not familiar with the city, they may be familiar with the Medical Corridor. The Fruit Belt is right next to the Medical Corridor in Buffalo.

Host:  So, it's near the Elm-Oak arterial, I guess.

Guest:  Yes, sir. Roswell Park.

Host:  And just what is the Fruit of the City effort that we're involved in?

Guest:  Okay. Well, the Fruit of the City, also known as the Fruit Belt Coalition, they actually sponsor Christmas in the City, which is an event that they put on every year for families that may not be able to provide Christmas gifts for their loved ones and the children to put smiles on their face. So, we got involved with this event last year, and we wanted to do all we can to make sure that every kid has a Christmas toy under their tree.

Host:  And so, to that effort, you're inviting people to bring toys unwrapped to the agency.

Guest:  Yes, if you want to give a child a smile on Christmas and you want to participate in this event, you can actually drop off unwrapped toys, gently used or new at our 3108 Main location. Right outside our main office, there's a box that we're collecting the toys in and if you're really generous and the toys that you choose to provide for us won’t fit in that box, you could have them call me and I'll gladly come and pick them up. We'll be collecting toys up until December 9. After that, the event will actually be held December 10.

And if you know of someone, a family that need these toys, there is a registration but it's just simply a phone call. You would just call 716-893-6428 to register and again they're going to be given out those toys December 10 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 833 Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14203.

Host:  And for people who are dropping off the toys that might not be familiar with the city, 3108 Main Street is near Highgate Avenue in the University Heights district. And what hours are people likely to find someone at the office to receive the toys?

Guest:  We're here Monday through Friday with the exception of holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Host:  Wonderful. And in the event that people don't get a chance to go out to the store to pick up an actual toy, is money acceptable to contribute to this effort?

Guest:  Yes, you can also donate money. Again, if you want to donate money. You can do that by calling the 716-893-6428 number and Reverend Bennett Smith will gladly take your cash donations and they'll make sure that toys are purchased for the families and again make sure they put smiles on children's faces, in some cases who might not otherwise be able to receive a toy.

Host:  Well Kevin since you've already provided contact numbers for people that need them, I’ll thank you very much for explaining our participation in Christmas in the City and you have a great day.

Guest:  Thank you, Ernie.

Host:  You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Kevin Smith, Director of MHPC, and I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.