This year, the hourly and salaried workers raised $95,000 to buy toys for the children in their area. The co-chairs of this year’s fundraising were Hilda Evaro and Hector Miro, but they insist the credit go to all the people at the plant.
Hector told us the plant has had a Christmas giving program for nearly 40 years, and for the past 25 years, Mission Arlington — a local non-profit group — has been the recipient of the employees’ generosity. Hector is a member of UAW Local 276, and Hilda is a quality engineer at the plant. Together, they represent the entire spectrum of the workforce, and they exemplify why Arlington’s Toys For Kids drive gets bigger and better every year.
The number of toys you can buy for $95,000 is staggering, especially when the organizers make arrangements to get many of them at wholesale prices. Every year, the toys are brought into the plant starting right before Thanksgiving, then lined up along the open walls to show the employees how many toys they were able to buy. This year, the hundreds of feet along the walls were filled as toys started spilling into other open floor space at the plant. Then, more bicycles and tricycles rolled in. More doll houses. More skateboards. More of everything. The plant had an almost incongruous appearance as Barbie and ”Iron Man” action figures looked at the Cadillac Escalades and GMC Yukons rolling along the assembly line. The overflow toys never even made it to the plant, but instead went straight to Mission Arlington for distribution to the early-arriving families.
It took us two minutes to drive along the line of toys inside Arlington Assembly. See the raw video here.
How do the Arlington workers raise so much money? By planning ahead and keeping the effort going all year long. In addition to a payroll deduction program, they sell food in the plant at lunchtime, they have raffles, and this year – they even bought a Chevrolet Camaro and raffled it off. The proceeds from the raffle will be the start of the pot for next year’s Toys For Kids effort.
As Christmas drew closer this year, some of the children from Mission Arlington were invited into the plant to see the vehicles, meet the workers, sing some carols and get their picture with Santa Claus. The kids then got a chance to walk along the incredibly long line of games, toys, bikes and stuffed animals, and pick out four items as their Christmas presents.
As we asked the kids what they selected, we usually heard, “I got this for my sister,” or “This one is for my little brother.” While they were selecting presents for themselves, they never lost sight of what is important in their lives. Remembering the importance of community will allow more than 30,000 children in suburban Dallas to have toys this Christmas. Congratulations to Arlington Assembly on its record-setting effort.