Students from Memorial Church’s Sunday school program collected nearly 400 toys for children in Cambridge and Boston who otherwise might not have presents under the tree this Christmas day.

The toy drive began with the start of Fall Term as part of an annual outreach effort by the Church School to the wider Harvard community. By mid-December collection boxes in the church were filled many times over with new toys, books and games. The Church School children also raised nearly $500 in cash donations in a special collection during Sunday Services.

“Families and the whole congregation worked to fill the toy drive boxes each week. The children collected a special offering during worship, getting almost $500 to be used to purchase toys,” said The Rev. Westley Conn, Ministry Fellow in the Memorial Church and Church School lead. “We also encouraged everyone coming to our carol services to bring a toy, which they did in abundance.”

The drive collected and purchased 391 toys, which were given to area children and families in need of help this Christmas season through the Phillips Brooks House Association. The student-run organization collects toys each year to provide gifts to more than 2,000 underserved children in the Cambridge and Boston area.

“Memorial Church has provided incredible support for the Phillips Brooks House Holiday Toy Drive over the last several years,” said Travis Lovett, director of the Center for Public Interest Careers at the Phillips House. “Thanks to the generosity of Memorial Church and the Harvard community, we were able to provide gifts to over 2,000 underserved children in the Greater Boston area this holiday season.”

Conn said they set a high bar for this year’s toy drive. In honor of the 85th anniversary of the Memorial Church and the 60th anniversary of the Church School, the goal was set at 850 toys. The goal was not met, but the collection this year surpassed past collections, he said.

“Collecting the toys helped young people learn that many children go without gifts at Christmas, and that we all need to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in the joy of Christmas, whether it be toys under the tree, food on the table, or a warm place to rest,” Conn said. “We believe that God calls us to see to it that no one is turned away from Bethlehem’s Inn at Christmas, so that one day everyone will have the necessities of life not just at Christmas, but for each day.”

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