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TODAY's 23rd Annual Toy Drive: Make holidays sparkle for kids, teens in need

TODAY kicked off its 23rd annual Holiday Toy and Gift Drive — and this year we are in need of special toys for some very special children.
/ Source: TODAY

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who generously opened their hearts and donated this holiday season, the TODAY Toy Drive raised approximately $17.25 million worth of in-kind donations, putting smiles on the faces of more than 3 million children through 180 family non-profits in all 50 states. Nearly 80 companies partnered with the Toy Drive this year, along with thousands of people in the crowd and viewers at home. In the 23 years since its launch, the TODAY Toy Drive has received a total of $450 million in donations from loyal and generous TODAY viewers. Thank you again for making our Toy Drive a huge success in 2016!

TODAY is proud to announce its 23rd annual Holiday Toy and Gift Drive — and this year we are in need of special toys for some very special children.

Since 1994, we've helped more than 4 million underprivileged children by distributing about $434 million in donations to more than 180 organizations across America and to U.S. military bases abroad. Learn how this became a treasured tradition on the Plaza, here.

The smallest gift can mean the world to a child in need. As you celebrate with your family, take a moment to let these children know they're loved. We hope you will share the joy this holiday season and open your hearts.

TODAY Toy Drive

How do you donate?

Come down to the TODAY plaza if you're near New York City — celebrity "elves" collect toys daily during the broadcast. If you arrive after 10 a.m., drop off your gift at the Rockefeller Center NBC Experience Store in the designated TODAY Toy Drive bin.

Celebrity "elves" will be collecting toys from Nov. 28 through Dec. 23. Stars who have helped in past years include George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Usher, Jon Hamm, Ian McKellan, Maya Rudolph, Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Michael Buble, Paul Rudd and so many of your favorite celebrities. Who knows who will be wearing the Santa hat when you visit?

For those of you who can't be here in person, we've made it easy for you! You can also donate online at Click the Amazon link, add as many items as you like to your cart, complete the checkout, and Amazon will do the rest.

If you're interested in making a company or group contribution, please email or call (212) 664-7508.

All donations are appreciated, no matter how big or small. We are most in need of toys for boys of all ages, and tweens and teens up to age 18.

Why you should help

Every 29 seconds, a child in the United States is born into poverty, with limited access to food, medical care and basic human services. For many, TODAY is their ONLY source of gifts for the holidays. There will be no toys this holiday season for these children unless you choose to help.

The program is designed to provide gifts and essentials for impoverished children and teenagers up to age 18 nationwide. It has also expanded to include gifts that children are able to give their parents, because giving provides joy in itself.

These items go to millions of kids in all 50 states. Recipients include homeless shelters, children's group homes, schools, foster family services, domestic abuse shelters, Native American missions, military bases, hospitals, preschools, after-school programs and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Natalie Morales helped the children at New York's Graham Windham wrap donated gifts for its annual party.

Read more about some of the participating organizations in our Charity Spotlight series:

Project Sunshine – New York, New York

Jenesse Center – Los Angeles, California

Kids in Crisis - Cos Cob, Connecticut

Portland Homeless Family Solutions – Portland, Oregon

Domestic Violence Intervention Services – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sociedad Latina – Roxbury, Massachusetts

Dorcas House – Little Rock, Arkansas

More on the Toy Drive:

The TODAY Show Toy Drive is a project of the TODAY Show Charitable Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows. In 2008, it was honored with a President's Volunteer Service Award.

Let's work together in making our 23rd Holiday Toy Drive the most successful ever. It comes at a time of great need.

2016 Donors:

Our sincere thanks go to the following organizations for their generous contributions:

Thirty One Gifts, Mary Kay Inc., DK Publishing, LEGO, Microsoft, Music Together LLC, Kohl's Department Stores, Avon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ConAgra Brands, Arbonne, Tyson Foods, K'NEX, Learning Resources, Jakks Pacific, Inc., TPF Toys, PlayMonster Toys, ShedRain, TOMY International, UPPAbaby, Uncle Milton, Petmate, Caboodles, Cheerios, Hess Corporation, Stikbot Toys, USANA Health Sciences, Inc., Amway, TJX Foundation, Sanrio, Sterling Jewelers, International Playthings, Origami Owl, Vtech Toys & Leapfrog, L'Bri Pure n' Natural, Mattel, Spin Master Ltd., Just Pretend Kids, Alex Brands, Ann Williams Group, Jordan Essentials, Sticker Farm, Lulu Press, Inc., Moose Toys, Aerobie, Oliver the Ornament, Bananagrams, Barefoot Books, Radio Flyer, Monkeying Around, Good Will Publishers, Utterly Smooth, Sun Products Corporation, Tactic Games, Tucker Toys