Earlier this month, a twenty-four-foot-high truck with an eighteen-foot-wide banner stood near the Route 1 Walmart Superstore to gather gift donations for the Home for Little Wanderers’ annual fundraiser, “Big Truck 4 Big Wishes.” With the help of Walmart’s generous partnership, the Home for Little Wanderers was able to take the annual “Stuff-a-Truck” event and hold it on a bigger scale.
“In the past, we had a fundraiser very similar to this year’s fundraiser called Stuff-a-truck and it also worked to grant wishes during the holidays for the families we take care of,” said Brian Condron, director of communications and advocacy at the Home for Little Wanderers. “However, we started getting diminishing returns on donations.”
The lack of donations was partly due to the location of the truck, which was usually parked in the Boston Commons. Additionally, in recent years, the Home for Little Wanderers tried to increase its donations by traveling to Legacy Place shopping center, but it encountered the same problem. The consistent diminishing returns from lack of convenience and an area that wasn’t ideal contributed to the possibility of ending the “Stuff-a-Truck” tradition. However, Walmart, the Home’s biggest holiday sponsor, found a way to keep the tradition alive.
“We were not going to host Stuff-a-Truck this year but because of the doubled commitment from Walmart, we thought we would try it again in a new way,” said Condron.
Walmart and the Home for Little Wanderers partnered up to host a large-scale fundraiser, which was connected with Walmart’s newest super store near Route 1 in Saugus. As a result, both teams worked together extensively to publicize the event through newspaper advertisements and flyers one week before the fundraiser.
On Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., bikes, backpacks, sporting equipment and a variety of gift cards filled the truck from Walmart shoppers and bystanders. Condron and his team were able to see how successful the attempt turned out to be, as almost all of the “Top 20 Wishes” were fulfilled.
“We end up in the end, almost every year, sharing the bounty, and some years 20 to 25 other agencies from the greater Boston area end up getting donations from the donations we get,” said Condron. “We’re really proud about that.”
However, the bounty is not simply supplemented by fundraisers that the Home for Little Wanderers hosts around the Greater Boston area. Other fundraisers will be contributing to the larger-scale toy drive that the Home is holding. If anyone is interested in donating to the Home for Little Wanderers, they can go to the Toy Room on 33 Corinth St., Roslindale, Massachusetts, which is only open for the month of December. Working at the Roslindale Toy Room has been a change for the Home, because the toys were previously gathered in the harder-to-reach Jamaica Plains toy room.
While many aspects of Big Truck 4 Big Wishes were a new spin on an old fundraiser, the idea of the Toy Room remains a constant and it’s central location aids with the variety and accessibility of donations in the surrounding communities.
“A lot of people still tell us that they remember as kids, their parents brought them to the Toy Room,” said Condron. “Back then, there was still a big focus in Boston on donating gifts for the Little Wanderers.”
The hefty job of granting big wishes for dozens of kids within the Greater Boston area was more than accomplished, something one would expect from the 200-year legacy of donations and support from the Home for Little Wanderers. “It’s a warm tradition, and it’s been one in Boston for a while now,” said Condron.