Our Story


About Jarel's Toy Chest

We Are at the Forefront of Bringing the Joy of Christmas to Children

We bring the joy of Christmas to children in San Antonio through an unforgettable magical event that includes high-quality toys to help support parents experiencing financial struggles.

High-Quality Toys

Families have discovered our standard of excellence through the quality of the toys we distribute. This is why we've witnessed families line up overnight for this event.

Kids Entertainment

Beautiful magical memories are created for these children through face painting, balloon creations, games, music, and costume characters.

Giving Opportunities

We believe in giving local small businesses the opportunity to give back to local families struggling financially through a memorable Christmas toy for their children.

The Story

It All Began in 1996

Over the last 26+ years, we have grown to become the largest free toy giveaway event in San Antonio for children ages 0-10.

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In 1996, we began what was once known as Project Bless a Child. The project aims to reach as many children as possible in the San Antonio Community by giving away toys at Christmas. We gladly pronounce that Christmas is our favorite time of year. Even though so many children and volunteers are blessed by this event, it is sad that many other children in the city still do not have a merry Christmas. This burden birthed what is known today as “Jarel’s Toy Chest.” In 1999 we began with Deborah Melvin as the coordinator and chairperson, the goal is to reach children in the city who would not have a merry Christmas because of family financial woes or other challenges.

We began by sending out our organization to meet the project’s needs by asking individual community members to contribute toys. This soon led to reaching out to businesses and partnering with the International Community Development Corporation to make this project a great success. We take a lot of pride in the toy that the child will receive. In our unique way, we graciously receive donations and toys that are “age appropriate” for the children in the community. Every toy is purchased with safety in mind. Each giveaway event reaches over 2,000 children. We will not turn away any child during event hours because we believe that the heart of the community will respond when needed.

Contributions come through leaders in business, philanthropy, and faith that are united in their goal to ensure the holiday rings with the affirmation of our community spirit. Donations are tax deductible and donations are publicly acknowledged at this great event and in the community.

We will organize, decorate gifts, and help coordinate the event. The toys are wrapped in brightly colored paper, and the child’s age, boy or girl, is labeled on the package. The toys are brand names such as Mattel, Hasbro, V-Tech, Leap Frog, etc. We also give 100 bicycles to children through our free raffle system. Personal audio players, complete with headphones, remote-controlled cars, dolls such as Barbie dolls are among the myriad toys. Others included hand-held video games, board games, basketballs, and footballs.

We have had prominent city and state leaders such as the SAISD Superintendent and Honorable Mayor Ed Garza, U.S. Department Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro, City Council members, Judge Peter Sakai, State Representative Ken Mercer, and much more. Cartoon characters such as Ironman, Spiderman, Batman, Sponge Bob, Bob the Builder, Dora, and the infamous Spurs Coyote, have entertained the children.

Ask any volunteer or committee member about why they do this. You will soon find out that they do it for the children. It brings us joy in our hearts to see the faces of the parents, as well. The parents are so elated that someone cares enough for their child to give them something for Christmas that they were unable to provide due to circumstances in their lives at that present time. For us, there is no greater joy than showing the love we have, especially at this time of the year. For some, this is the only expression of love they will ever see. Numerous phone calls come into our offices from parents thanking our organization and ICDC for providing such an event and assisting the community.

Any business wishing to participate in this annual event may send a tax-deductible donation to Jarel’s Toy Chest or the International Community Development Corporation. Donations should be marked “for Jarel’s Toy Chest.”

During this joyous season, we want to thank all of our volunteers for their assistance with shopping, wrapping, labeling, and planning the program for the toy giveaway.


Parent Questions

Please browse through our most frequently asked questions below.


Raffle Tickets!

November 11th

We will announce winners this Saturday!