The Christmas spirit was in full force at the big blue house just off I-475 in Flint.
The building that houses the Voices for Children Advocacy Center, a nonprofit devoted to helping young victims of abuse or neglect, was decorated in holiday regalia with Christmas music streaming from the TV mounted near the entrance.
Workers and volunteers were busy, making sure everything was ready for special guests – the children in need of Voice for Children services. The goal was to give them toys and gifts in an effort to create a memorable Christmas memory courtesy of Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and his wife, Holly.
The event was the second of several donations from the Gores family during the 2021 holiday season. The first event – a continuation of a longtime relationship with the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program – was held at Eastern Market in downtown Detroit.
More than 10,000 toys, bicycles and tablets were distributed to families in the state where Tom and Holly were raised. The Gores family also supported a Downriver holiday drive by No Kids Without a Christmas in River Rouge. More than 200 kids benefitted from the Flint event.
“All children deserve a chance to smile and feel the joy of the holidays at this special time of year,” Tom Gores said in a release. “We launched this effort 15 years ago to spread happiness to kids and families in Michigan during the holiday season. Inspiring kids, giving them hope and the excitement it brings is so important. We are honored to partner with these incredible organizations and support the work they are doing for young people in our communities.”
It was the first year for Gores’ association with Voices for Children, which was prompted when Pistons vice president Erika Swilley was asked to find a philanthropic cause in addition to Toys for Toys. Swilley reached out to the United Way of Genesee County and the feedback landed on Voices for Children, which works to help children who are victims of abuse.
Swilley met nonprofit CEO Claudnyse Holloman and the search was over.
“I felt her energy and how compassionate she was and dedicated to these kids,” Swilley said. “Just hearing the difference that a donation from the Gores family would make, it was an easy No. 1 option.”
Flint resident Shaketta Brooks, who picked up toys for her son, Faith, was appreciative. She highlighted that many are still struggling as the pandemic is ongoing.
“There's less fortunate people who don't necessarily have it,” she said. “Like with the pandemic, a lot of people were set back. I'm continuously being set back, but still picking up the pieces.
“It means a lot. A lot of people don't get anything, so we're grateful for everything.”