The John and Elizabeth Toy Drive: A Story of Love and Giving
Eighteen years ago, The John and Elizabeth Toy Drive started in the West Broward home of Dr. Elizabeth King and John Weaver. The love of the season was reflected in their home by the elaborate Christmas decorations that they put up every year. It included 4 Christmas trees, hundreds of Santa Claus, John’s Christmas village and thousands of Christmas lights strung inside and outside of their house. Their family and friends loved going to the couple’s annual holiday party to see their creation. It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.
The toy drive began as a simple suggestion from John to their family and friends that they bring toys for underprivileged children to their annual holiday party, instead of bringing them Christmas or hostess gifts. In the first few years, they collected a few hundred toys annually, and distributed them personally to underprivileged children through a local charity.
When Elizabeth and John moved to Fort Lauderdale beach in 2007, their neighbors in Las Olas Beach Club (LOBC) Condominium, became their biggest supporters. The couple would open up their home for 12 hours every year and invite their neighbors and community leaders to go see their Christmas decorations and bring a toy for their toy drive. Within a few years the toy drive was bringing in thousands of toys. As the toy drive grew, John’s Christmas village also grew. It eventually became the centerpiece of the toy drive and the tag line, “It Takes a Village” was adopted to highlight the importance of communities coming together to make a difference.
In 2012, the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort offered to sponsor the John and Elizabeth toy drive and fundraiser reception and also invited the couple to display their Christmas village in the lobby of the hotel for 3 years. The eye-catching masterpiece became a magnet and drew more supporters from far and wide. For the last 4 years, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort has generously sponsored the toy drive and fundraiser reception. Last year, the organization collected more than 8,000 toys to benefit local underprivileged children. What an impact such generosity has had among the communities that are served!
It was John’s involvement with the Central Beach Alliance (CBA) as a board member first, and then as its president, Dr. King’s Suits, Stilettos and Lipstick Foundation, and the tremendous community support that really propelled their toy drive to become what it is today.
Sadly, John lost his life to cancer in 2018 after a long year battle, but Dr. King is committed to keeping her husband’s legacy going. The “18th Annual John and Elizabeth Toy Drive” is a true testament to their giving hearts and dedication to empower children. This year the toys collected from the toy drive will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County. Any funds collected from this event will be used to purchase more toys and to continue to fund empowerment, leadership and mentoring programs for women and children.
Although John’s Christmas village was retired after his passing, the spirit of coming together to make a difference will live on forever. We invite you to be part of the village. Please register for the toy drive and bring toys or donate on SSLwomen.org. It truly takes a village!!!