Kids. Toys. America’s Car-Mart.
For 15 years, Car-Mart’s Holiday Toy Drive has brought joy and hope to countless children. What started at one dealership in Claremore, Okla. has grown into a beloved tradition for the company. On this 15th anniversary, it’s another year of spreading happiness and making a difference for children in the hospitals.
“The holiday should be a time of joy and happiness. We never want to see a child struggle in the hospital,” says Curtis Valentine, General Manager, Car-Mart of Rogers, Ark. “At Car-Mart, we have the opportunity – just for a moment – to take their minds off what they’re going through. This kind of gesture goes a long way for a child in the hospital.”
For Crystal Kuster, Assistant Small Claims Manager, the organizer of that first toy drive event, she’s amazed it’s been 15 years already. She’s happy thinking about all the kids and their families who they’ve been able to help during the holidays.
“Each year our toy drive gets bigger and bigger with more toys,” says Tarina Thomas, Small Claims Agent, Claremore, who partners with Crystal every year to organize the toys for their region. “It’s hard enough when your kid is in the hospital, so we hope to bring a smile to their faces.”
Crystal and Tarina look forward to organizing the toys they collect this year. Last year, their 13 dealerships collected 2,424 toys. They sorted the toys by gender and age, and they filled every available space in their building. “It’s a fun chaos,” Crystal smiles. And then it’s a convoy of vehicles going to The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis, Tulsa, Okla. “All the effort is worth it once you get to the hospital and see the kids and the parents,” adds Tarina.
Down Toy Drive Memory Lane – Moments of Happiness
Here are a few memories our associates shared from past toy drives.
Crystal and Tarina have fond memories of being in the same room as two young girls. They gifted each child a toy and a gift card for their parents, which brought tears of joy to the parents’ eyes. Crystal also remembers a little girl singing to her, and playing with a little boy who was delighted in picking out a toy. “There hasn’t been one year that I haven’t teared up,” says Crystal.
Four full-size SUVs were needed to deliver 2,250 toys to Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital courtesy of the Rogers Car-Mart team. “We were like the Secret Service rolling up. It was a special moment for us. This shows how much we all care,” says Curtis, last year’s top toy collector for Car-Mart. “All the smiles. All the toy donations. The excitement by everyone. That’s the lasting impression for me.”
Every year, Pat Stutsy-Waldrep, General Manager at Car-Mart of Oxford, Miss. challenges her team to collect toys and she matches their gifts with more toys. “It warms my heart to know someone who is ill and struggling will be taken care of by our toys. What a blessing this is for these kids and their families to know they are cared for and loved by strangers. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
It’s for the kids
Last year, Car-Mart’s toy drive collected 25,576 toys and delivered them to 29 children’s hospitals in its 12-state area. For 2023, the goal is to collect 30,000 toys and deliver them to even more hospitals.
“Being able to give back and take some worry and stress off the parents is a blessing,” says Kayla Culver, General Manager, Car-Mart of Bowling Green East, Ky. Kayla’s Car-Mart and the Car-Mart of Bowling Green also donate to Potter’s Children’s Home. “These children do not have families to provide for them, so giving them something to look forward to on Christmas morning, rather than just clothes or toiletries, is truly a blessing.”
“Our Holiday Toy Drive shows we’re more than a car company; we’re a people company, and we’re about people,” Curtis concludes. “We care about taking care of people.”
It’s ultimately about the kids, so here’s to many more years of kids, toys, and America’s Car-Mart.
Give a Toy, Share the Joy
During our Holiday Toy Drive 2023, enjoy $699 Down on select vehicles when you bring in 6 new, unwrapped toys (valued at $10 each).
All toys will be donated to area children’s hospitals.
*On retail vehicles priced at $16,999 or less. With approved credit. See dealer for details. This promotion may not be combined with any other promotional offer. Example: $699 down. 182 weekly payments of $7.42 per $1000 financed at 18% APR. Interest rates may vary by state of purchase.
Get Involved with our Holiday Toy Drive
For sponsorship opportunities with Car-Mart’s toy drive, contact Veronica Lynch at [email protected]. If you want to donate a toy or two, drop them off at your nearest Car-Mart before Saturday, December 9.