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Fill the Streetcar with Toys for Miracle on 31st Street!

by Kai Parmenter

fillthestreetcarThe holidays have always been a time of giving, an opportunity to come together in celebration of such enduring values as family and community. In keeping with this spirit, we’re proud to announce the first-ever Fill the Streetcar, a toy drive hosted by the Regional Transportation Authority on Friday, December 16th, in partnership with Tucson’s longstanding Miracle on 31st Street Christmas Celebration.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much fun if it were just another run-of-the-mill holiday donation drive. Sure, you’ll receive warm, fuzzy feelings for your contribution, but why not make the event something more, a destination in and of itself, instead of just a place to drop off gifts on your way to somewhere else? At least, that’s what RTA must’ve thought when they organized the event, which is why Fill the Streetcar comes with a special Downtown twist.

As you might’ve guessed from the title, this goal here is to completely fill the Sun Link Streetcar with toys, to be given to children from Tucson’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Streetcar will be parked on 8th Street between Herbert Avenue and 4th Avenue the day of the event, with donations accepted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (view the map and other info here). There are no real restrictions on what you can donate—Fill the Streetcar will accept toys for children of all ages, just make sure all items are new and unwrapped. Better yet, the event will feature live entertainment, courtesy of local Americana band Mustang Corners, who’ll be performing original tunes from 4 to 6 p.m.

All toys collected will then be delivered to Miracle on 31st Street, the charitable organization that will distribute the toys to children. The 46th Annual Miracle on 31st Street will take place on Sunday, December 18th, at the Casino Del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater. Gates open at 9 a.m., with festivities including music, food, and of course, toys.

Founded in 1970 by Ramon Gonzales, Miracle on 31st Street began when Gonzales paid out of pocket to host a local Christmas Eve party for neighborhood children at his home (on 31st Street, naturally). That party has since transformed from a simple backyard barbeque into a huge annual event, with over 100 community volunteers involved. Recently, Miracle on 31st Street officially became a 501(c) charitable organization. They expect more than 10,000 children will attend this year’s event.

The upcoming Fill the Streetcar toy drive will be the first, and marks the first time the Regional Transportation Authority has partnered with Miracle on 31st Street. “We want to give back to the community,” said Sheila Storm, Communications Director for Pima Association of Governments, which manages the RTA. “The PAG employees participate in other community events throughout the year…one of the ideas that came up was coordinating our own community event, and that’s where we selected Miracle on 31st Street.” To date, RTA has funded more than 770 multimodal projects and improvements through its 20-year plan (including the Streetcar). PAG serves as the region’s metropolitan planning organization, working to enhance our region’s mobility, sustainability and livability.

To learn more about Miracle on 31st Street, including how to volunteer or make a donation, visit their website here. For everything else on Fill the Streetcar, visit PAG’s homepage here.