This December, during the season of giving, we’re highlighting how our program participants give back to the community. This week we’re profiling EPIC’s Annual Toy Drive!
Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC) Service Warriors are dedicated to giving back all year round. EPIC is a Triangle-affiliated organization dedicated to preparing young people with disabilities to be actively engaged community leaders through education, leadership development, and community service. The Service Warriors are young adults with disabilities who meet for one year to participate in service projects around the Greater Boston and Worcester areas.
The EPIC Holiday Toy Drive has been happening in Boston for eight years, since the first year of the Service Warrior program. As part of the Service Warrior program, the team does a community service project each month. When Jeff Lafata-Hernandez, EPIC’s Executive Director, was designing the curriculum, it was logical to do a project in December that would make an impact for the holidays. A toy drive made sense for several reasons, including the fact that the number of gifts they collect directly correlates to the number of children who are impacted.
All Service Warriors participate in the service day where they help to sort, label, and wrap the toys. This is a huge day for the EPIC community to come together during the holiday season, including Service Warriors, alumni, volunteers, board members, and past and present staff members. As an EPIC staple event, this is one of two service days that stays the same from year to year. Some Service Warriors get their schools or workplaces to host boxes and some will create projects to generate more toys – their level of involvement is up to them.
Over the past month in Boston and Worcester, 16 toy collection boxes were hosted by EPIC’s community partners. This year, EPIC collected 202 toys in Boston and 147 in Worcester! In Boston, the toys will be going to the South Boston Community Health Center, and in Worcester, the toys will be going to the Pernet Family Health Service.
This project brings the community together to celebrate the holidays in the EPIC way- through service. While the EPIC Service Warriors are constantly giving back to the community throughout the year, this is a special way to honor the season of giving back every year!