It’s that time of year again, geeks! Last year’s Twin Cities Geek Holiday Toy & Book Drive was a huge success—we set a new record by collecting over 4,900 donations of games, toys, books, and other items for deserving recipients! This year, with even more great donation locations on board, we’re hoping to do even better. As has been the case the past three years, items donated will go to two very worthy local organizations: Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Women’s Prison Book Project in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Click here for more information about what those organizations do.)
From November 10 through December 11, please bring new and gently used toys and books to our 2018 Twin Cities Geek Holiday Toy & Book Drive donation-box locations around the metro! We’d love to share your giving with the world, so when you make your donation, snap a selfie and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with our official hashtag:
What Is Needed
Gifts for Kids & Teens
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center is collecting new and gently used toys to distribute during the holidays to St. Paul families in need through Hallie’s Toy Shop. Something as simple as your old Charlie-in-the-Box can bring a smile to a young person who has never had their own. There is a great need for items that will appeal to teenagers, so please consider donating some cool stuff for teens!
- New toys (for kids of all ages)
- Gently used toys (must include all the pieces)
- Electronics (video-game systems, MP3 players, ear buds, e-readers, tablets, etc.)
- Children’s and YA books (hardcover or softcover)
- Games and puzzles
- New or used CDs and DVDs
- New or used video games
- Art and craft supplies
- Makeup, fashion jewelry, and fashion accessories that would appeal to teenagers
Books for Adults
The Women’s Prison Book Project is collecting new and gently used paperback books of all kinds. The organization sends three paperback books per prisoner per month to cis- and transgender women and genderqueer persons in women’s prisons across the United States who write to request either specific titles or authors or just genres they enjoy.
- Craft books (not patterns)
- Fiction and nonfiction by African American writers
- Contemporary books in Spanish
- LGBTQ+ books
- True-crime books
- Vampire books
- Women’s-health books
- Books about family
- Self-help books
- Books on recovery from chemical dependency
- Pagan, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious, nonfiction, and fiction texts
- Any other good-condition paperback books you would like to give!
About the Drive
A question we often get is: How is the Twin Cities Geek Holiday Toy & Book Drive different from Toys for Tots?
- Toys for Tots often separates out toys by gender: you can get a “boy toy” or a “girl toy.” Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, by contrast, puts all the toys we send them together and lets families pick what their children will like best without any regard to gender.
- Toys for Tots requires families to register very far in advance in order to get gifts for their children. There are always families who miss that deadline for any number of reasons. Hallie Q. Brown Community Center accommodates as many families as possible, even if they miss the registration date. It is specifically because of our drive that most of these families are able to get gifts.
- Through our efforts and because we accept gently used toys, we are able to help provide the St. Paul families served by Hallie Q. Brown Community Center with up to six toys per child, which is more than double what Toys for Tots often provides.
- By working directly with the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, we ensure that families not only get donated toys but also up to five books or comics per child from our drive.
- Toys for Tots tends to attract toys for, well, “tots.” And while that’s a worthy cause, and toys for kids of all ages are wanted and needed, gifts for teenagers are in very high demand—their age group is often left out of gift drives like these. By running our own drive, we are able to shift the focus onto this need and encourage folks to donate gifts especially for teenagers.
- Running our own drive allows us to be multipurpose, collecting not only gifts for the St. Paul families served by Hallie Q. Brown Community Center but also books for the Women’s Prison Book Project. This increases the overall impact of our efforts as a community.
Where You Can Donate
Geek-friendly businesses of the Twin Cities metro have really answered the call this year, and we have a grand total of 46 different locations hosting donation boxes for the 2018 Twin Cities Geek Holiday Toy & Book Drive, including gaming stores, toy stores, comic stores, music stores, art and craft supply stores, and even a store that sells fancy soda pop! Virtually all of them are locally owned small businesses or community organizations, so pick the location most convenient for you to donate, and take some time to check out the spaces while you’re there—it’s a perfect opportunity learn more about your community, not to mention do your holiday shopping.
There will also be a donation box at the Holiday Geek Expo on December 1 and 2 at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.
Do you have a special event where you would like to help collect donations for the 2018 Twin Cities Geek Holiday Toy & Book Drive? Contact us and let us know!
If you can’t make it to a physical donation box, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center has provided us with an Amazon wishlist. Click here to view it. Buy a gift online and ship it straight there!
About the Organizations
Here is some information about the two awesome organizations that the Twin Cities Geek Toy & Book Drive will benefit.
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center
Serving the Summit-University neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center Inc. is a private, nonprofit social-service agency whose mission is to improve the quality of life in our community by providing access to critical human services, fostering and promoting personal growth, and developing community leadership.
Although Hallie Q. Brown began as a settlement house for African Americans denied services from other agencies, they long ago opened the center’s services to all people. Historically, the center has been mixed racially and economically. Approximately one-third of St. Paul’s people of color live in the Summit-University area and nearly 50 percent of the population are minority residents. The area continues to evolve demographically, and Hallie Q. Brown provides a wide range of services designed to reflect the character of the Summit-University community as a whole. The holiday toy drive is part of a larger Hallie Q. Brown effort to help meet the basic needs of St. Paul residents.
In addition to our holiday drive donation locations, you can also drop toy donations off directly at the community center:
Please check out more of the great work Hallie Q. Brown is doing at the center’s website, www.hallieqbrown.org.
Women’s Prison Book Project
The Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) is currently located at Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood. Since 1994, it has provided cisgender and transgender women in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics, from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health. WPBP is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization that seeks to build connections with those behind the walls and to educate those of us on the outside about the realities of prison and the justice system.
Of the more than two million people confined in US prisons and jails, over 150,000 are women. Eighty percent of these women are imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. Of the women convicted of violent crimes, the vast majority were convicted for defending themselves or their children from abuse. More than half of all women in prison are women of color, and two-thirds of women in prison have at least one child under age 18. Most of these mothers had primary custody of their children before going to prison.
These facts mean that women in prison have specific needs for particular kinds of information: reading material on families, children, women’s self-help, women’s health, and legal aid pertaining to women who fight back against their abusers. Many lesbian, bisexual, and transgender prisoners have trouble obtaining information that is relevant to their lives. WPBP works to support prisoners and, through that solidarity, works to empower prisoners themselves and build connections through prison walls.
In addition to our holiday drive donation locations, you can also drop book donations off directly at Boneshaker Books:
Please check out more about the Women’s Prison Book Project at www.wpbp.org.
Go Forth and Donate!
Tell your friends, stop by one of the donation-box locations, donate some toys and books, and post about your donations using #GiveTCG! Please thank the generous local businesses hosting donation boxes for us. Check out their stores, and support local business by doing some holiday shopping there. Together we can make others’ lives a little brighter this holiday season.
Do you use Facebook? There will be a Facebook event on the Twin Cities Geek Facebook page, so don’t forget to join that and please invite your friends!