UndiSCovered: A South Carolina Holiday Toy Drive With A Purpose

Volunteer honors her late son by giving back to her community …

We realize this is late notice, but our news desk was just handed some information about a toy drive taking place in Columbia, South Carolina this week – one being organized by the Salvation Army of the Midlands.

According to the group, the toy drive – which is scheduled to run between 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. EST today (Wednesday, December 10, 2020) – is being organized by a volunteer who lost her son in a car accident thirteen years ago.

The drive is one of several ways Cynthia Byrd continues to give back to her community in honor of her late son.

Byrd is a patient access representative with Lexington Medical Center. In her spare time this week, though, she has been working with the Salvation Army on the toy drive to honor her late son Brandon LaVar Byrd – who was killed in a car accident in 2007.

“This is a wonderful way for the year to end,” Byrd said. “It’s been a rough 2020 – but this is definitely a representation of the true love that we have for each other.”

“It’s been thirteen years since my son lost his life in a car accident,” Byrd added. “When I lost my son I was given a lemon – so I told myself I could remain silent and just live my life that way, or I could add sugar and make lemonade, and do something positive about it. That’s when we came up with the toy drive, adopting a highway and a scholarship fund.”

(Click to view)

(Via: Salvation Army of the Midlands)

This is the fifth year Byrd has helped organize this event – but given the struggles so many families have gone through this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent societal shutdowns, it is clearly one of the most important drives ever.

“We are so excited because people have really come out and supported it and have given out of the abundance of what they have,” she said. “I’m just speechless – and for those people who know me it’s hard for me to be speechless.”

In light of the hardships being faced by so many families, Byrd’s goal for this year’s toy drive was one bus full of toys and fifty bikes. By 2:00 p.m. EST, though, the drive had already filled two buses and collected more than eighty bikes.

Byrd’s volunteer effort is part of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, which matches children who “would not have Christmas without the help of the community” with individuals who are willing to give out of their abundance.

How does it work?

“During the months of November and December, trees are placed in Columbia area shopping centers and businesses bearing the names of children,” the Salvation Army noted on its website. “Shoppers are encouraged to pick a name from the tree, purchase an item and return the gift unwrapped.”

As you continue your holiday shopping, would you consider helping one of these children?

Angel trees are located at Columbiana Centre Mall (in front of JC Penny), at the Walmart on Dutch Fork Road and at Starbucks locations in Lexington, S.C.

“We still have over 1,000 children (angels) who need Christmas assistance and have not been adopted this year,” Salvation Army board member Thomas Rhodes told us. “Toy drives like this allow us to provide for those children.”

With so much “wrong” in our world right now – so many people struggling, fighting, etc. – how amazing is this story?

And how easy would it be for those in the Midlands region of Columbia, S.C. to lend a hand?

Also, if you aren’t able to make Byrd’s event this Thursday afternoon, you can still help. The Salvation Army is holding three “stuff-a-bus” events this Saturday (December 12, 2020) – one at the Walmart on Harbison Boulevard, one at the Walmart at 10060 Two Notch Road and one at the Walmart on Garners Ferry Road.

Have a holiday charity event you’d like us to cover in your part of the state? Let us know … we would be happy to spread the word to our readers.

Got a small business, restaurant, nonprofit, organization, attraction, destination or other entity/ location you think would be a good fit for this feature? Email us …



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Banner: Salvation Army of the Midlands

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