“Our priority is helping our neighbors in need. When the calls come, we’re there.” This is how Melissa Blomberg Doktofsy, founder of Toys of Hope/American Giving Project, describes her nonprofit.
Aventura Mall twice recently collaborated with the organization. In December, the shopping center and Doktofsy’s group wrapped and donated hundreds of toys and books, delivering them to homeless and at-risk children throughout Miami. Among the recipients were teens at the Dorothy M. Wallace COPE Center and kids from active military families affiliated with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Last October, Aventura Mall hosted a Toys of Hope/American Giving Project community event in which 400 brand new Graco baby car seats were distributed to South Florida families in need.
Both initiatives were part of Aventura Mall’s ongoing #DoGood campaign.
Always searching for a way to assist others, Doktofsy founded the nonprofit in her garage 24 years ago under the name “Toys of Hope.” Originally, she collected donations for just five families. Today, the organization provides new clothing, household items, food and more to upwards of 70,000 people facing financial, health and housing hardships. One hundred percent of the monetary and in-king donations collected benefit people in need.
Outgrowing the “Toys of Hope” name, Doktofsy is re-branding the nonprofit as “American Giving Project.”
Though based in New York, the organization assists people throughout the country, focusing on areas affected by natural disasters. Always striving, Dokofsky’s next goal is to enhance American Giving Project’s South Florida presence.
“We really want to establish a donor base here,” Doktofsy said. “We care deeply for this community, and I believe the sky is the limit.”
How can supporters help American Giving Project? Doktofsy shared there’s always a need for gift cards, specifically for teenagers and the elderly.
“Teens tend to get lost in the shuffle of children when it comes to donations, and the elderly are often in need of products that may be embarrassing for them to request and collect,” she said. “Gift cards allow them to get what they need while keeping their pride intact.”
Giving is truly the mission of this organization. Its staff are all volunteers, going back to old-school giving “from the heart,” as Doktofsy says. “We’re so passionate about what we do.”
For more information about Toys of Hope/American Giving Project, visit ToysofHope.org.