As part of a community effort in South Omaha to bring joy to some children in need during the Christmas season, local organizations collaborated to host their first Zumbathon toy drive to gather gifts for children in need.
Local organizations, including Club Pura Vida, Bere’s Child Care, Jandel’s Design, DJ Bambam, and La Nueva 1020 AM, wanted to do a nontraditional toy drive for kids at the Hispanic Little Angels, a foundation dedicated to kids with Down Syndrome in South Omaha. That’s when Berenice Mora, owner of Bere’s Child Care, thought to incorporate Zumba with a toy drive.
“Zumba is so popular with Latinas,” says Mora. “I figured women would be interested in attending, we just needed to figure out a way to make it a toy drive.”
Instead of paying a $10 entrance fee, the cost to participate in the three-hour Zumbathon was a toy donation worth ten dollars or more.
“This was our first year so we weren’t sure how people would respond to the idea but everybody was great. Everybody was s nice – everybody brought in more than two presents so we were able to gather twice as many toys for the kids,” says Jennifer Hernandez, one of the Zumba instructors.
“Women and their daughters, and their friends all came, they left a toy at the entrance and stayed for an hour or two, some stayed the whole time – but they all had fun. And that was important to us. We wanted to make the act of giving fun and enjoyable,” says Mora.
Neli Hernandez, one of the Zumba instructors says it was important for them to make the event family-friendly and remind those kids that often go forgotten during the holiday season, they are loved by their community.
“We want the kids to feel like the gifts were coming directly from another family, which is why we wanted families to participate together. We wanted the kids to know they’re loved, not just by the people in the foundation but in the community, and in South Omaha, a great Latino community. We want them to know we have love for them and we organized this event with our whole hearts because we want to put a smile on their faces,” says Hernandez.
The gifts will be delivered to the children of Hispanic Little Angels on Thursday, December 15th.