At Side By Side Smiles we are passionate about helping others, and this year we are excited to announce that we will be running a toy drive to collect monetary and toy donations for children with special needs. While hundreds of toy drives run every holiday season, very few specifically cater to differently abled children. Often times, kids with special needs can benefit from different types of educational and sensory toys. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Early Learning Center, which provides support and educational services for kids in elementary school with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The Side By Side Smiles Toy drive will run from October to mid December with a goal of raising at least $10,000 and reaching 100 toy donations. During this time, all donations we receive will be going towards the toy drive.

OUR INSPIRATION

My Uncle Mohan was born with Cerebral Palsy, and although he is almost 60, he still has the mentality of a 4 year old little boy. He was and continues to be a significant part of my life, and although we do not have a typical uncle niece relationship, I have learned so much from watching him persevere through his struggles. Activities that we take for granted like walking and easily communicating with other are incredibly difficult for him, but that does not make him any less worthy of respect and love.

Growing up with him as a part of my family helped me understand that there is stigma surrounding individuals with special needs, and often times it is especially difficult for kids to connect with others. However, different types of sensory and educational toys can help build children's communication, emotional, and physical skills. Our hope is that these holiday gifts will help make this holiday season extra special for both special needs kids and their families, and we invite you to join us on our mission.
-Sanjana