Do you have a fond memory of perhaps that first toy, that toy you asked for, that toy you saw in the Sears Christmas catalog and just had to have?
Well, imagine not receiving any toy during the holidays. It happens right here at home.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to Young & Established Founder, Courtney Johnson about his goal to collect enough toys for 5,000 children around the area.
If you would like to donate, sign up for a donation, or become a volunteer, visit the Young & Established website.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to in-depth. Do you have a fond memory of perhaps that first toy, that toy you asked for, that toy you saw in the Sears Christmas catalog and just had to have? Well imagine not receiving any toy during the holidays. It happens right here at home. ‘Toys for Tots’ for years had been making the joy of Christmas even brighter for up to 5,000 children in the Tri-State. The kindness of giving. But last year was the last for organizers due to personal reasons. So, how do you fill the void? Well, joining me tonight Courtney Johnson, the founder of ‘Young and Established’. And this cause has Courtney written all over it. Courtney thank you so much for joining me.
Courtney Johnson: Thank you for having me.
Brad Byrd: Why are you doing this?
Courtney Johnson: Well, you know we always like to be a part of something positive and we couldn’t let this campaign pass without jumping on it and when we got the message that we could do it, we wanted to be a part of it.
Brad Byrd: And you are establishing a toy drive that will culminate in December. But we were talking about that first toy we received when we were kids and you gave me a very interesting response in the newsroom. What was that? It was the gift, but also the gift of giving. Tell me about that.
Courtney Johnson: So, my parents were big on giving, giving back even if we wanted toys/ But they made sure we gave back. So, that’s always one of the things I always remember and this event we just didn’t want that to happen this year so, we’re starting a little later than they started back then, but we’re excited to take this event back over.
Brad Byrd: Organizers for ‘Toys for Tots’ usually got the ball rolling around March, and the holidays are coming up in about 2 months or so – that’s a huge challenge, how are you going to meet that challenge?
Courtney Johnson: So, we started 2 weeks ago, once we got the information and we found out and reached out to the organizer, which was Rob Reutter. It was a little difficult getting ahold of him, but we actually had someone who had volunteered for the last 6 years with him that reached out that night – we made the comment that we would take over the campaign. And she’s been very helpful as far as telling us what they did in the past and even though we don’t have that much time, we have a lot of support. This is a community campaign and we don’t want to make it about Y&E, this is a community coming together to make sure we fill this void.
Brad Byrd: You’re basically working with pretty big partners who have pretty big names out there. And how are they going to help and who are they?
Courtney Johnson: We have a lot of different ones, but Starbucks, Five Below, Walmart – they’re all spreading the word and putting boxes in their stores and making sure people help out with this campaign. So, we have a lot of support, we’re not worried about getting the support, but we just want to make sure every kid gets one.
Brad Byrd: We’ve talked about this so many times in the last several years, the commercialization of Christmas. This particular drive that you’re talking about brings back memories of stories like, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, things that we, well I did, my generation grew up with anyway, but what do you think of the actual spirit of the holiday?
Courtney Johnson: Me, personally, I know it’s not all about toys, but to see kids not receive anything, I think it’s important that we bring everybody together and make sure every kid gets a toy. I’m big on faith so, it’s not all about the toys and all of that, but just spending time with family and make sure people are able to give and be a part of something that is positive, that’s important.
Brad Byrd: How can we help them?
Courtney Johnson: We have everything set up on our website, you can go to Youngandestablished.com, we have different forms as far as we have a form to register if you want to get involved, if a family wants to register or if a company or person wants to put a box they can just fill out the information and we’ll bring them a box.
Brad Byrd: And we’ve put that website up on our Eyewitness News website so you can click on that and go to the Young and Established website. Courtney Johnson, perhaps we can get together in December and see how all this is playing out. But best of luck to you sir.
Courtney Johnson: Thank you
(This story was originally published on October 10, 2019)