Child Hero™: A Service-Learning Program of Metro Toy Drive

Child Heroes’ Class Session #1 @Portland State University

In reference to toy drives, we are often asked “why duplicate a program that already exists?” Well, for starters, the need in our communities is so great that no single entity can reach everyone in need. Moreover “what makes Metro Toy Drive™ different from similar causes, many of which have been around for years.

There are two distinguishing characteristics and value driving goals of our organization: (1) help kids in need year-round, and (2) develop a program platform–with future moduralization flexibility–for children to learn community service and citizenship values while helping other kids in need through Metro Toy Drive’s growing infrastructure. With the inspiration of parents who wanted to involve their children in support of Metro Toy Drive’s efforts, we began the ideation and “fuzzy front end” of development in 2011, a term used with new product innovation yet is applied to Metro Toy Drive’s specific needs. After a lengthy planning and concept prototyping process with the support of faculty members from Portland State University’s Graduate School of Education specializing in childhood development, we launched Child Hero™; it consists of (1) class learning, augmented by (2) field activities. The program is approximately five months long, which started in September and concludes in January. There are currently four heroes in the program, each with a unique story and reason for helping the cause.

Our first class session in September was a successful meet and greet of the heroes, parents, program members–Metro Toy Drive and University Faculty–and an introductory overview of what everyone could anticipate in the months ahead leading towards Christmas.

Child Heroes’ Class Session #2 Field Activity

Our second class shared with Child Heroes the core values of our cause and why it’s important to serve others in need. In addition to PhD faculty , graduate students provided class support. After the class, we made an activity field trip to Shriners Children’s hospital and delivered 200+ new, unwrapped toys. Our team received a wonderful tour of the facility from  friendly staff. Serendipitously, we wished happy birthday to a young patient, too.

Overarching directives of Child Hero™  this year are to (1) test and refine the program, especially through user-oriented design inputs from program participants; and (2) increase Metro Toy Drive’s effectiveness in service of the community as a direct result.

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