By Callie Hietala
Wayne Draper is hoping to make Christmas morning a little bit brighter for some families this year.
The owner of Right Now Remediation and Restoration and the TAD Space, Draper has partnered with Healthy Families West Piedmont and Infant & Toddler Connection of the Piedmont to create the Holiday Hope Toy Drive.
Community giving is nothing new for Draper, who said he has organized similar efforts in other places he has lived. The inspiration for this endeavor came from a decade-old memory that popped up on his Facebook page, during which a man was so moved by a donation to his organization that both Draper and the other man were in tears.
For this drive, he wanted to choose organizations that “meet the needs we’re looking to meet,” namely ensuring that donated toys go to local families rather than being sent outside of the area. Additionally, he wanted to partner with organizations serving a diverse group of families and individuals.
“We work with families from all walks of life, but a lot of those we serve are facing challenges” stemming from work, COVID, or life, said Sherry Winn, of Healthy Families West Piedmont and Infant & Toddler Connection of the Piedmont. Both programs operate under the auspices of Piedmont Community Services.
“Families always want to have something special at Christmas,” she said. “They will be so excited and thankful to have something extra” to give their children during the holidays.
Infant & Toddler Connection provides early intervention support and services for young children with developmental delays or a medical diagnosis that typically leads to such delays, Winn said of the program that offers support to the families of the children as well, providing strategies to work with their children, often by contracting with physical or speech therapists.
Winn said Healthy Families West Piedmont specialists are often described as “living, breathing how-to manuals,” providing support services to new parents who are facing various challenges or stressors.
The program offers information about child development, helps parents learn to build healthy parent-child relationships, and develop parenting skills. Links to whatever resources parents may need also are available, including healthcare, food, and mental health services.
“Whatever families need help with, we try to link them,” Winn said.
Currently, the Infant & Toddler Connection serves 141 young children and Healthy Families serves 49 families across Henry, Franklin, and Patrick counties and the city of Martinsville.
Draper hopes that many of those children and families will be receiving toys from Holiday Hope donors this holiday season. He is specifically seeking donations of new, unopened toys to give children the joy of opening and owning something brand new. Though toys of all kinds are welcome, he said he hopes donations include battery-powered toys, educational toys, and items such as board games to help promote family bonding.
He has already assembled a list of businesses to support the drive, including Miss Kitty’s Restaurant, G2 Cars, Rudy’s Girl Media, VLNZ, Unique Styles and Designs, Brenda’s Catering, Theory of Soul Band, his own Right Now Remediation and Restoration, and a host of Greek organizations like the Martinsville Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Draper said he wanted to send a “huge shout out and thank you” to everyone who has already participated and to all those who will.
Donations to the Holiday Hope Toy Drive can be dropped off Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the TAD Space (20 East Church Street, Martinsville) through December 20. While monetary donations to buy toys will be accepted, Draper said he prefers that donors shop and select a toy or toys themselves.