Tzu Chi Kindergarteners Give Back to the Community with a Toy Drive

National Headquarters  |  February 16, 2024
everyone happily took a photo together
Children donate toys at the fire station, and everyone happily takes a group photo. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai

Written by: Jin Wu, Xiujuan Que, Ihsuan Tsai
Translated by: Ariel Chan
Edited by: Vicky Li Hou, Patrick McShane

From December 1 to December 15, the two Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools in California, located in Walnut City and Monrovia City, respectively, organized toy donation events. Both school events aimed to educate children about giving back to the community through charitable acts in support of local families in need.

Humanistic Education in Every Classroom

Every year, Southern California hosts toy donation events led by various local fire departments to provide toys for children of economically disadvantaged families. In the first two weeks of December 2023, Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut Great Love Preschool and Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool responded to this initiative by urging students and parents to participate and provide support for area families in need.

The two events revolved around the same theme but took different approaches. Tzu Chi Education in Campus Walnut Great Love Preschool engaged students, teachers, and parents in a two-week toy donation drive. This action educates young children to “love others as oneself” and instills the spirit of “giving.” 

Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool focused on fostering good neighborly relations by collaborating with the city fire department’s “Sparks of Love” event. This partnership aimed to encourage students and parents to donate toys to help children and families who couldn’t afford toys during the holiday season.


Children placie carefully selected toys into the toy box. Photo/Stephanie Lo

Creative Teaching Methods

Teachers from both schools made the most of these events and used innovative and creative teaching methods to ensure the children understood the lesson. At Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut Great Love Preschool, teachers creatively educated students on the “meaning and expression” of their donations. They used picture books as teaching tools, explaining the importance of toy donations through vivid stories. Teachers also had students decorate the donation box, allowing the children to express themselves creatively, experience the joy of participating in charitable activities, and enhance their understanding and interest in donation events.

At Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool, parents and teachers helped students place toys brought from home on the school’s donation table. Students also made gratitude cards and posters to express their appreciation for firefighters.

Amanda Lee, a teacher in Monrovia, said, “At Tzu Chi, we believe that giving back and helping those in need is very important. Supporting toy donation events is one way we achieve this goal.” She mentioned that her son Kaeden also attends the school, and together they went to the store to select toys, hoping to bring joy to children in need. She emphasized: “Although it was a small donation event, it had profound significance.”

Students learn various ways of giving back and contributing under the guidance of teachers.

Binbin Gao, a teacher in Walnut, mentioned that this toy donation event had a positive impact on the children and their families. It allowed families to spend more quality time together selecting toys and donating them to families in need. Additionally, the theme of the school’s Humanistic Education program for the month was giving, enabling children to deeply understand the concept: “How to give and help those in need.”

Toys ready for donation. Photo/Judy Anderson
Children put their handprints on paper, conveying love to everyone. Photo/Candy Huang

Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships

During the event, many parents and children participated together, choosing and donating toys as a team. Hanni Wang, a parent at Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut Great Love Preschool, believed that this event not only helped children in economically disadvantaged families but also provided an opportunity for each parent and child to participate as a family and contribute their efforts towards the greater good. She emphasized that such activities allowed all children to feel the joy of Christmas and created an atmosphere of togetherness, making it very meaningful.

Wanling Li, a parent of Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool, and her son Hongru Wang expressed that this was an event they attended every year. They believed that through such events, children could understand the importance of giving and helping others. Wanling Li mentioned that she chose which gifts to give while explaining to her son that some children do not have gifts in their homes at Christmas time or on their birthdays. Her son came to believe that giving gifts to others is a joyful act.

Wangling Li helped her son and his classmates push the trolley of gifts from the school to the fire station. Together they put the toys into the donation box at the fire station. She believed that this process brings not only joy to the children but also a warmth of parent-child bonding to the parents, fostering the true Christmas spirit. “(The) Kids feel like Santa” she commented. 

I like to buy toys for others, and I feel very happy.

Debbie Cordeiro and Sally Ho, parents from Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool, mentioned that the school teaches children how to help those who may not have as much as they do. They learn the value of contributing to the community and cultivate a spirit of generosity and giving.

The granddaughter of Tzu Chi volunteer Diti is a student at the Preschool. Diti was delighted to have the opportunity to assist the children and their teachers during this activity. She praised the educational quality of Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools, especially its focus on Humanistic Education and cultivating good manners in children. She mentioned that her granddaughter always greets others politely, eats cleanly, and has learned to express gratitude and care for others.

Parental feedback has indicated that this activity has had a positive and beneficial impact on participating families. It has provided more opportunities for parent-child interaction and helped children deeply understand the meaning of giving and the importance of helping others.

Parents take photos with their children. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Children and parents happily participate in the toy donation event, fostering a strong parent-child bond. Photo/Judy Anderson

Fostering Community Bonds

At the end of the event, all donated toys along with handmade gratitude posters were sent to the fire departments in Walnut and Monrovia.

At Tzu Chi Education Campus in Monrovia Great Love Preschool, parents and students were asked to help pack the donated toys or put them on hand carts, as well as help bring all the toys and gratitude posters to the fire department. On December 19, Buddhist Tzu Chi USA Education Foundation Executive Director Debbie Lee led ten groups of parents and students, colleagues, and local community volunteers from the school on a walk to the Monrovia fire department to deliver toys and gratitude posters.

At Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut Great Love Preschool, parents and students together transported all the donated toys to the local Walnut City Fire Department. The fire department will later distribute these toys to families in need, adding warmth to their holiday season. The children also prepared gratitude posters to express their respect and gratitude to the firefighters.

Toys and gratitude posters are delivered to the fire department. Photo/Ihsuan Tsai
Firefighters happily take photos with the children. Photo/Stephanie Lo

Jeremy Sanchez, the local Monrovia City fire captain, expressed gratitude for the donation from the preschool. He believes that these toys will have a significant impact on children in the community who need help. Sunny Fiero, captain of the local Walnut City fire station, said, “These toys donated by Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool will be sent to our warehouse and then distributed to children in Los Angeles County who cannot afford toys during the holiday season, impacting the lives of many children.”

The toy donation drives at the two Tzu Chi Great Love Preschools not only taught children to be generous and giving but also strengthened the connection and spirit of mutual assistance within the community, becoming an unforgettable holiday memory.

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