Maria Aguilar is the Outreach Coordinator for the Coalition for the Homeless Summer Camp.

In November, her focus turns to opening boxes filled with toys and sorting them by age — which are destined for children living in city shelters.

Aguilar knows firsthand the importance of receiving one of these toys. She was a recipient as a teen while spending time in shelters, after arriving in the United States from Mexico with her family.  

“My Mom didn’t have the resources so Coalition for the Homeless was a great help and because of that I am very grateful and I want to give the same thing back,” said Aguilar.

What You Need To Know

  • The Coalition for the Homeless has kicked off its annual holiday toy drive

  • They hope to collect more than 12,000 toys through the effort

  • Those wishing to donate can choose items from a curated Amazon wish list

  • There are 19,000 children living in city shelters

The Coalition, which has been advocating and providing services for the homeless for more than 40 years, is hoping to collect 12,000 toys and other items for children living in New York City Shelters.

There are even more requests for toys this year with the addition of shelters for the more than 20,000 new migrants arriving in the five boroughs since the spring.

Once again, the coalition is using a wish list for donations curated through Amazon. With Christmas around five weeks away — the sooner the toys get here, the better.

“In order to get 12,000 plus toys out to the shelters in time for Christmas, we need to get them in early because we sort them and then bag them up to fill the orders for the shelters, and that takes time,” Bev McEntarfer, Director of the Coalition’s Camp Homeward Bound and a coordinator for the toy drive said.

For Maria Aguilar, being part of the effort and working for the Coalition has brought her full circle.

“I know what families are experiencing now, especially the ones that are immigrating here, so it’s a great way that I feel like I am helping the ones who had the same path as I did,” she said.

To buy a toy for a homeless child, head to