It feels better to give, than to receive.
Some fairgoers play carnival games just for the sport of it, and don’t really end up wanting the colorful plush animals they receive as the prize. When Nancy Stoke found out some fairgoers tossing their prizes in the trash, she thought it was a waste of not just the prize, but the opportunity to bring children in need the gift of a new toy.
In 2009, Nancy had the idea to place toy collection bins at the Fair’s exit gates. A member of the local Rotary Club, she solicited volunteers and purchased some trash cans and marked them with a “Care N’ Share Toy Drive” logo. Nancy and her volunteer crew stood alongside the bins encouraging departing fairgoers with plush prizes to donate them to local children. That first year, a 150 toys were collected. While that may not be a lot of toys for a four-week effort, Nancy saw the glass as half-full…that was 150 kids she could make smile with a gift.
Fair staff saw Nancy’s dedication and supported the cause by building attention-grabbing oversize collection bins, complete with a clear acrylic front panel with a hole, allowing guests to put plush into the bin and see all of the colorful toys that have been collected that day.
Year after year, Nancy would work long days manning the Care N’ Share toy donation bins, washing the plush, finding worthy recipients and delivering toys. The Care N’ Share program has collected over 100,000 toys and delivered them to children in need–at foster homes, childrens’ hospitals, shelters and more throughout San Diego County and sometimes reaching as far as El Centro and Ensenada.
Thank you to Jeff Zevely and CBS 8 News for covering this special program during the 2022 San Diego County Fair.