Last year, just by chance, I read a local newspaper article about a 2016 holiday promise gone awry and the story broke my heart. The Wheatley Education Campus serves one of the poorest areas of this city. A shocking number of the school’s families are homeless or live in shelters. That year, a well-intentioned offer to provide gifts fell through on the eve of the holidays. If not for teachers stepping in at the last moment to buy presents, many of the children would have had nothing for the holiday.

I took the article to Liz Gonzalez, Director of Operations at Forbes Tate Partners (FTP), to ask if she thought our staff would support including Wheatley in our holiday planning. Her expression said more than words, and while we had some research to do, there was no doubt in our minds FTP could help. 

Immediately, Liz set to work, speaking with the educators at Wheatley, team members at the firm, our property managers at CBRE, fellow building tenants, and any other enthusiastic allies willing to lend a helping hand. FTP had never taken on a project of quite this nature, but we were committed to the kids at Wheatley. 

After weeks of planning and fundraising, our FTP family stepped up to the plate – like I knew we would. Together, we donated over 600 brand new toys for the boys and girls at Wheatley. In fact, we blew through our initial goals and were able to provide every one of the 236 students with multiple gifts, ranging from books to basketballs.

If you contributed in 2017, we cannot thank you enough. After last year’s toy drive, the students at Wheatley wrote dozens of thank-you cards in the following weeks. Teachers at Wheatley, who had generously reached into their own pockets for presents in past years, commented on how much the event meant for their school. It was a day to remember for the kids at Wheatley and for the adults at FTP who were reminded of the spirit of the season. 

This year, we’re taking on that mission again and adding another, more ambitious challenge. Our goal is not only to donate a whopping 700 toys to the boys and girls at Wheatley, but also provide presents to the pre-kindergarten students at AppleTree Public Charter School in Southeast D.C., a school with similar needs. After last year’s success at Wheatley, one of the amazing teachers at AppleTree reached out to ask for help. We couldn’t be more excited to expand our partnership. 

Serving over 200 students at Wheatley was a heavy lift last year. We asked ourselves if serving an additional 170 students at Appletree was even possible. But when these students and families struggle day-to-day, we have to step up. Between our FTP family, clients, friends, partners, and even random acquaintances, we’ve received enormous interest in supporting this year’s efforts.  

So, if you are one of those fantastic people or organizations who wants to get involved, now is the time! If you’re able to contribute in any way, please contact Liz Gonzalez at egonzalez@forbes-tate.com or (202) 638-0125. 

Providing toys for nearly 400 kids in our area is an immense undertaking. We invite everyone to join the community to make this holiday a little brighter and warmer for children in need.  

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