Flint, MI—Before you finish checking off that holiday gift list, Genesee County organizations are asking Flintstones to consider donating new toys for the children of incarcerated parents.
The Genesee County Ambassadors, Molina Healthcare, Voting Access for All Coalition and Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson have joined forces for the 3rd Annual All Children are Equal Holiday Toy Drive.
“We just want to be those angels to kind of step in and support the kids and give them some encouragement,” said Percy Glover, Genesee County ambassador and jail voting advisor for the Voting Access for All Coalition. “[We want to] let them know that there are people out here that care, even though your mom and/or dad is away during the holiday time.”
Toy collection began Dec. 5, 2022, and donations will be accepted Monday through Friday at the Genesee County Jail and the McCree Theatre until Tuesday, Dec. 20. Toys will be distributed to children on Dec. 22.
To donate, Glover said people can stop by either location and drop their item, which should be unwrapped and appropriate for children ages 1-12, into a marked box at the site. He also stressed that due to COVID-19, the drive organizers can only accept new toys this holiday season.
“There’s a lot of great work being done locally, across the state, and nationally around the criminal justice system and people returning from jail and prison,” Glover said. “But I think one piece that we have not done a very intentional job of addressing is ‘how does incarceration impact the family structure?’ And more so, how does it impact the children?”
Glover noted that the toy drive isn’t a full answer to that question, but it’s one step in “curbing” the cycle of incarceration that tends to arise for such young people.
“We want to address generational incarceration while also looking at generational poverty,” Glover said. “Because a great deal of people who have been in jail and prison, you see the children following those footsteps.”
The Genesee County Jail is located at 1002 Saginaw St., and its toy drop-off time is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The McCree Theatre is located at 4601 Clio Rd. with toy drop-off from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information about donations or volunteer opportunities with the toy drive, Glover can be reached at 810-210-4041.