Published On: Mon, Nov 30th, 2015

Boca Raton Toy Drive Gets Ready For Ninth Year


The Ninth Annual Rotary Carousel Day will be taking place on December 6h at Sugar Sand Park.

Seems like it was just yesterday when it all started while Douglas Heizer, former president of Boca Rotary Sunset, was watching the news and saw Wayne Barton came on asking for toy donations to give to the needy children of Boca Raton. Right after, Heizer decided to give him a call.

“How can I help?” Heizer recalled saying.

It was then where The Rotary Carousel Day was born. A day in which children and adults alike can get free carousel rides, take photos with Santa Claus, and of course, help the needy kids of Boca Raton.

Back in 2005, the Boca Raton Rotary Club Sunset was instrumental in raising money to help purchase an intricate merry-go-round. In celebration of Rotary’s 100th anniversary, the club decided to donate the carousel to the city’s Parks and Recreations Department where it was then placed at Sugar Sand Park.

Because of the Rotary’s generosity, the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Parks District, which owns the play area, offered the club a chance to use the carousel one day a year free of charge.

In 2007, Heizer proposed to use one of those days to host a toy drive.

“No one was really using that carousel,” Heizer said. “I thought, ‘let’s use this to help kids during the holidays.’”

Since the first Carousel Day, more and more people got involved. Boca Helping Hands joined forces as well as supporters from the five other Rotary Clubs in Boca Raton, The Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, ACM Building Services, Image 360, The Boca Raton Green Market, Memories for Life, Worldwide Ticket Craft, and others.

This year’s event is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Sugar Sand Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It offers families fun and free rides on the carousel as well as a special appearance from Santa Claus.

Participants are urged to bring new, unwrapped toys that will be given to needy kids who may not otherwise receive any presents this holiday season.

Since the first toy drive in 2006, over twenty thousand toys have been donated, last year alone; $16,000 in toy and cash donations were taken. This year they hope to raise over $20,000.

“Our goal is to be the biggest toy drive in South County,” Heizer said. “We want to be bigger, we want to be able to give away more toys.”

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