What it Means to Give…

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in Blog, Featured Stories |

By Jamila Larson, Executive Director

For children experiencing homelessness or domestic violence, real life can be scary. The opportunity to have a safe and fun holiday party right where they live becomes extra important.

Every October, we host Fall Harvest parties for our children at our partner shelter sites across the District. The parties are costume-focused and usually sponsored by a group of friends, co-workers, or a company that provides decorations, games and snacks to make the evening memorable. This helps keep our costs down and provide opportunities for community engagement.

Recently, at one of our sites, we had a sponsor back out at the last minute, meaning we had no time to arrange for another sponsor to take their place. It’s not an option for us to tell a group of children they can’t have a holiday party. So we forged ahead, and Playtime paid for the food, decorations and games to make sure our children had the fun they anticipated.

Thankfully, this doesn’t happen frequently. We are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers and donors who support us throughout the year. But life happens, and there are occasions when Playtime has to step in to cover expenses we hadn’t expected. That’s why it’s so important for us to have a reserve of funds to tap into when unexpected needs arise.

On #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28, we begin our annual Year-End Giving Campaign to raise funds to support the work we do to spread the power of play. The money raised is not earmarked for a specific program or event, but is essential for keeping all our programs running; for supporting field trips, like the trip to Cox Farms Fall Festival in Centreville, Va. for about 30 children from two of our sites; for supplying brand new dress-up costumes for about 500 children at all four shelter sites; for providing healthy snacks at all of our programs; and for so many more activities and projects throughout the year. With the addition of our new social worker, we are now renovating space in D.C. General as an office suite where her team can meet privately with families.

Playtime’s generous individual donors make up 35% of our annual revenue. Last year, people, businesses and organizations in the United States contributed more than $390 billion to U.S. charities, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016. And in fact, studies have shown that giving to and spending money on others helps to reduce blood pressure!

Why give to Playtime?

Ed and Rebecca Tilley of California have been dedicated donors to Playtime since 2008 despite living on the West Coast. Why do they continue to contribute? “We won’t forget the meaningful and visible work of the Playtime Project, after visiting D.C. years ago. Your positive, joyful spaces and activities for children demonstrate how our donations are going to a valuable ‘grassroots’ effort. Also the dedication, teamwork and enthusiasm of Playtime’s volunteers left a powerful impression on us; we want to support their tireless efforts!”

Their support, and that of so many regular donors, is the reason more than 700 children living in temporary and transitional housing experience the power of play!

Your recurring donations provide unique positive experiences, quality programming and reserves for those unanticipated expenses.

Mark your calendar for #GivingTuesday on November 28, and support the belief that all children, regardless of housing status, have the right to play.

We can’t do this important work without you.


Jamila ran Playtime as a volunteer since it was founded in 2003 and assumed the role as first full-time Executive Director in 2009. In 2012, she was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine for her leadership of Playtime.