By Amy Hopf, Digital Content Associate

Charity drives to gather food, toys, coats, and other items for those in need are a beautiful part of the holiday season. In Parks & Rec’s District 2, which covers the River Wards and the Lower Northeast, 2018 marks the seventh year for an annual community-wide food and toy drive. The drive collects small toys, non-perishable foods, and monetary donations for Feast of Justice.

The idea for the food and toy drive came from Recreation Leader Joe Fricker. Joe saw families waiting in line for a food pantry outside St. John’s Lutheran Church and suggested a food drive at the next district meeting. Together, supervisors and leaders worked with Feast of Justice to get the drive started.

Most years, donations have averaged around 1,400 pounds of goods. When Parks & Rec reconfigured its districts this summer, District 2 went from 28 recreation centers and playgrounds down to 17. Despite the lower number of sites in the district, Joe is hopeful to collect 1,000 pounds of donations this year.

The drive wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of Parks & Rec staff. Together, our managers work to:

  • Gather storage containers
  • Donate time and energy
  • Make pick-ups at other sites and bring materials back to the host center.

To make a donation, visit any of the 14 participating recreation centers in District 2 by December 12.

Other Parks & Rec donation drives

District 2 is not alone: there are charity drives at recreation centers and playgrounds across the city, including:

Parkside Evans Playground (5300 Parkside Ave., 19131)

Parkside Evans Playground will host a coat drive on Friday, December 7, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Coats will be distributed directly through the community to those in need.

For more information, please call 215-473-2517.

Houseman Recreation Center (5091 Summerdale Ave., 19124)

Houseman Recreation Center is asking for donations for their toy drive and breakfast with Santa, for youth ages 4-16. The drive will help brighten the holiday season for many low-income families in the area.

The drive is now through December 11. Learn more on the Houseman Facebook page.

Sturgis Playground (200 W. 65th Ave., 19126)

Helen G. Sturgis Playground will host a toy drive from Saturday, December 1 through Friday, December 14. All donations will benefit the playground’s winter holiday show and giveaway.

Toy drop-offs will be accepted at Sturgis on Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and weekdays from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, please call 215-685-2877 or email

Athletic Recreation Center (1400 N. 26th St, 19121)

Athletic Rec Center is running a holiday toy drive, asking for new, unwrapped toys for children and teens ages 14 and younger.

The drive runs now through December 19. Toys can be dropped off at the center Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, please call 215-685-2709.

View other ways to get involved with Parks & Rec this holiday season.