This Phoenix Woman Lost Two Family Members This Year. Now She’s Raising Money for Toys for Tots.

This Phoenix Woman Lost Two Family Members This Year. Now She’s Raising Money for Toys for Tots.

Photo by Kendahl Lock

By Jessica Swarner

December 3, 2020

More than 140 gifts are going to kids in need thanks to a Phoenix woman and her loved ones.

Kendahl Lock of Phoenix has lost two family members this year. 

While her loved ones didn’t die of COVID-19, the family was still affected by the pandemic’s fallout. 

Both her uncle and grandpa died without family by their side. And Lock didn’t get to mourn either of them in person—her family couldn’t have a funeral for her uncle due to restrictions in Michigan at the time. While her grandfather did have a funeral after those restrictions were lifted, she tuned in on Facebook Live rather than traveling.

“I didn’t want to fly and possibly risk getting—especially my grandma sick,” Lock told The Copper Courier. 

But while 2020 has taken so much from her, Lock still found a way to give back this holiday season. 

Trunks Full of Toys

With Toys for Tots branches around the country seeing fewer donations than normal, Lock has been fundraising to send more gifts their way. 

Lock said it started when she passed a Toys for Tots donation box on Sunday and mentioned it in her family’s group chat. She told them if they sent her money, she would order gifts online, pick them up from the store, and then donate them to the nonprofit. 

Once money started coming in, she also shared the call to action with friends on her private social media accounts. 

As of Wednesday, she had brought in $2,410 and purchased 143 gifts. 

Target bags full of gifts in SUV trunk
Photo by Kendahl Lock

“Everyone has kind of pulled together and wanted to help these kids out and have a good Christmas after this bad year,” Lock said. 

She said she’s been storing the gifts in a spare room, which she’s started calling “Santa’s Workshop.”

She says she plans to keep accepting money through Dec. 19, then deliver all of the gifts to the donation box in her apartment complex in one go. 

“As of right now, we’re going to need SUVs minimum to get them up there,” Lock said. 

Anyone can donate by sending funds to Lock’s husband’s Venmo account at @timlock. 

People also have the option to virtually contribute gifts through Donate a Toy. The organization, which partnered with Toys for Tots this year, matches each toy donated. 

“I don’t care if it’s going through me or not,” Lock said. “I just want the money to go to the charity.”

A Tough Christmas

Christmas in 2020 brings challenges for many people across the US. It may be the first year some people can’t spend the holidays with their families, or they might be sitting down to dinner with empty seats at the table. 

Lock said family members that had wanted to visit her have canceled their plans. And when they can finally get together again, there will be a lot of emotions to process. 

“It’s going to be really hard once we’re able to travel back to Michigan and neither [my uncle or grandpa] are there,” she said. “It’s going to open up old wounds.” 

Many Americans are in financial trouble, too. More than 288,000 Arizonans are without jobs, and a federal eviction protection keeping thousands in their homes across the state right now is set to expire at the end of the year. 

With less money coming in, families may find it extra tough to afford Christmas gifts. 

Lock said she realizes it’s been a difficult year for everyone. Being able to help just a little means a lot to her. 

“I have been telling people that I have not been this happy and excited about something since I had some family here back last February, right before everything happened,” she said. “It just kind of gave me hope.”

Continue Reading: Doing Your Christmas Shopping Online? Here’s How You Can Still Support Local Businesses.

Target bags full of gifts in SUV trunk
Photo by Kendahl Lock


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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