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Cayuga Centers Hosts Inaugural Holiday Toy Drive

Upstate NY staff dropping off gifts to a foster parent's home

Volunteer hands wrapped gift to foster parent at NYC toy distribution event

Being in foster care is hard for a child during the holidays. Thanks to you, a foster child's life was brightened this holiday season. Thank you for your caring and for your generosity.”
— Edward Myers Hayes, President and CEO
AUBURN, NY, USA, January 11, 2022 / -- Cayuga Centers hosted its first holiday toy drive benefiting foster youth across Delaware, Southeast Florida, Upstate NY, and New York City. The event consisted of a virtual toy collection drive, a fundraising campaign, and an in-person event in New York City. All donated gifts were given to foster parents, empowering them as gift-givers to the youth in their care for the holidays. Gifts were available for purchase online and monetary donations were also accepted. In New York City, supporters were also encouraged to donate their time as volunteers to help distribute toys to foster parents.

Upstate New York
Upstate NY programs used home visits as an opportunity to bring the holiday cheer right to foster parents' doors. All donated gifts were delivered to foster families. Assistant VP of CNY Treatment Family Foster Care (TFFC) Services, Phredi Griffin, noted, "As our foster parents received the toys donated by our supporters, they were so appreciative that they were able to provide a sense of normalcy for youth in their care in these uncertain times. I was honored to be able to hand deliver the toys."

Delaware and Southeast Florida

As one of the agency’s smaller programs, the TFFC program in Delaware received a number of gift cards to suit the needs of its middle school and teenage youth. In addition to the gifts from the Cayuga Centers’ Amazon wishlist, Southeast Florida received an outpour of donations from the local community. Cool Moms of the Palm Beaches, Bright Horizons Boca Raton, and Bright Horizons Coconut Creek delivered large donations of wrapped gifts, adding to the agency’s efforts to make sure each foster child received a gift during the holiday season. Chris Graber, EVP for Other States’ Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Programs, expressed, "We are so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity during this holiday season. These gifts put a huge smile on the faces of each of our youth in both our Delaware and Florida TFFC programs."

New York City

New York City programs held a toy distribution event with the help of volunteers at the Cayuga Centers Recreational Space located in the Bronx. Volunteers acting as personal shoppers were paired with each foster parent to help them select the best gifts for each child in their care and guide them throughout the shopping process. An option to get their selected gifts wrapped was also available. Staff and community volunteers took on various additional roles such as food managers, gift wrappers, and greeters to make the event a success.

Safety precautions were taken at every measure to keep everyone safe. To ensure social distancing, foster parents selected specific time slots for arrival and picked up gifts for each of the children placed in their households. Special thanks to the New York City sponsors: Food Park Terrace Cafe, Cater Place, DMJ Contractors, and Bear Givers. Additional special thanks to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr for contributing 500 masks.

The agency looks forward to continuing the toy drive in upcoming years as a way to bring awareness to foster youth needs and engage with the community in a meaningful way during the holidays. President and CEO Edward Myers Hayes expressed gratitude to all the supporters of the drive, saying, "Being in foster care is hard for a child during the holidays. Thanks to you, a foster child's life was brightened this holiday season. Thank you for your caring and for your generosity."

About Us:
For 20 years Cayuga Centers has partnered with communities as a foster care provider and prioritizes breaking the cycle of trauma for foster youth. Cayuga Centers does this by providing bundled supports including in-house therapy and coaching, by including foster parents on an active treatment team, and by providing 24/7 support for foster parents in an intervention that creates space for foster youth to heal and to grow.

Cayuga Centers is a nationally accredited and awarded 501(c)(3) non-profit, human services agency headquartered in Auburn, NY. Founded in 1852, the agency has delivered quality services by following the agency’s core mission of helping individuals and families grow as independent, healthy, and productive citizens through quality counseling, out-of-home care, and support services. Cayuga Centers provides a continuum of support services nationally, with offices in over 10 cities. The agency specializes in providing individualized, culturally appropriate, and trauma-informed support to diverse populations. Cayuga Centers currently serves 10,000 individuals and families annually. Visit to learn about its services, how to become a foster parent, and employment opportunities.

Jasmine Lawrence
Cayuga Centers