Three years ago my friend Amy and I were looking for a way to bring customers into Behm’s Sawdust City while helping the community. After about a month of throwing ideas around Amy came across an advertisement for Toys for Tots, and we decided that this would be a great way to bring people in and help the community. Little did we know that it would be a huge success! Every year we have had to become more organized. The first time we get together we decide on what band we are going to try and book and where we are going to ask for donations.
Next we split up and go to different businesses and individuals that have donated in the past or may want to donate this year. Finally we advertise for the dance and start looking for volunteers to help. Amy and I meet in the beginning of July to start organizing our Toys for Tots Dance. The first time we meet we make a list of bands that we would like to play that night. We do this by sitting down and brainstorming all the bands we have heard or have heard good things about.
We then look over our list and pick out our three favorites, and we list them in the order that we will try to contact them. If the first band has prior commitments we still have two more bands to choose from. After that we take last year’s donor list and make sure the business still is in business, and we add any new businesses that may want to donate something. Then in September and October we go to each business or individual on the list and ask if they would like to donate something to either be raffled off or for a new unwrapped toy.
Most places that we go donate something that they sell or a service they offer. We then raffle them off either in a silent auction or on the paddle wheel. Every dollar we raise we use to purchase toys. This year Amy and I decided that we would try to receive more donations by mailing out letters to businesses that we have not contacted before and that we do not have time to stop at. Together we typed up a letter asking these businesses to help us by donating money, gift certificates, or toys. We are hoping for a good response from these businesses.
The next thing that Amy and I do to prepare for the Toys for Tots Dance is to plan how we are going to advertise the event. We advertise in a few ways. We put the event on Behm’s Sawdust City’s Facebook page, we have Behm’s Sawdust City place ads in the Buyer’s Guide during the month of October, and we hang flyers everywhere we go. Some of the flyers we hang are made by Amy and I and some are made by various beer companies. We also rely on word of mouth, so we try to bring it up often in conversation.
Finally after we have started advertising and have collected all the donations to be raffled, Amy and I start looking for people to volunteer their time the night of the dance. We look for people we trust, since in most cases these volunteers will be dealing with money. Most of our volunteers are friends and family. Amy and I spend months planning and preparing for Toys for Tots Dance. We take many hours out of our already busy lives to help children from less fortunate families. So far, every year has been bigger than the year before. We are hoping this holds true this year will be too.