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In the 25th Year of Local resident’s Toy Drive, The need is Greater than Ever


It began with just 60 kids. In 1996, Patricia Rodriguez, then a case manager with the YMCA of Paterson, organized an effort to collect several dozen gifts after learning that foster children served by the YMCA might otherwise go without that Christmas.

Word spread of Rodriguez’s toy drive and requests poured in for Paterson children in need. Rodriguez, who recently moved to Hawthorne after living in Glen Rock for over two decades, always said yes.

“Any organization that expressed a need for gifts  –  I would say ‘yes,’ because how could I not!” Rodriguez said.

This year, in addition to collecting Christmas gifts for foster children, Rodriguez’s program – named Magdalena’s Toy Drive after Rodriguez’s late mother – will be providing gifts for two Paterson elementary schools. One of the schools, School 20, is opening late this fall due to damage from Hurricane Ida. Rodriguez hopes the Christmas gifts will help brighten what’s otherwise been an otherwise difficult year for its students.

“We’re going to make it the best day ever for them,” she said.

Rodriguez relies on help from family and a network of local volunteers to collect, sort, and wrap the gifts.

“The first two weeks in every December, there’s total chaos in my life,” Rodriguez said, “but at the end of the day, to see the happiness that these kids get from a $25 gift is worth every headache and every late night.”

To donate or volunteer for Magdalena’s Toy Drive, contact Rodriguez at:

[email protected]

(201) 207-9172

Or check out the toy drive’s Amazon wish list here:

Gifts should be valued at $25 to $50. Monetary donations can also be made directly to the toy drive through Venmo: @Patricia-Rodriguez-40.

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