L&I, a DHS partner, is distributing hundreds of stuffed animals to families in Pennsylvania this holiday season

Harrisburg, Pa – The Pennsylvania Departments of Labor & Industry (L&I) and Human Services (DHS) kicked off the holiday season Monday with an annual donation of plush toys collected throughout the year by L&I at routine inspections and later to Pennsylvania families through DHS’s Holiday Wish were distributed program.

“We collect these toys year-round because it’s our job to make sure they’re safe for all Pennsylvania children. Donating our annual collection is a special opportunity to bring a little joy to some of these children each holiday season,” said L&I Secretary of State Jennifer Berrier. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to think of their neighbors, co-workers, friends and family who may be struggling this holiday season. If you have a little extra to donate this year, contact a Christmas fundraising organization. You won, no regrets.”

Under state law, the L&I Occupational Health & Safety Bureau must inspect all new stuffed animal samples for contents, choking hazards, and general safety. Toys that pass inspection are given a registration number that can be found on every stuffed animal sold in the state. Because of this process, the department collects hundreds of toy samples every year.

In the past six years, L&I has donated almost 3,800 tested toys to Christmas gift campaigns. On Monday, L&I delivered nearly 600 toys to DHS for its Holiday Wish program, started in 1989 by a small group of DHS employees. Over the years, Holiday Wish has grown to include hundreds of employees in numerous departments, allowing the program to reach thousands of those in need across Pennsylvania during the holiday season.

When a family or individual visits a local DHS County Assistance Office (CAO) to request benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medical Assistance, CAO processors identify families and older adults who participate in the Holiday Wish program have to . Holiday Wish participants then choose a few gifts they need or would like to receive, and government officials sponsor a family or individual to ensure they receive special gifts during the holiday season. Commonwealth authorities and the Pennsylvania National Guard gather in December to distribute these gifts to hundreds of families across Pennsylvania.

“We want to do our part during this time of giving to help make the holiday better and brighter for the families we serve. With Holiday Wish, we can provide a little extra help to our neighbors who may be struggling or having a hard time,” said DHS Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “Our mission at DHS is to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has the resources they need to meet their basic needs and live their lives with the dignity we all deserve. DHS administers programs to help, and I encourage any Pennsylvanian who is struggling financially to apply and see if they are eligible for assistance.”

Applications for public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass. Onsite CAO services are available when customers do not have access to online services or need assistance that is not available through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling customer service centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia- Customers or 1-877-395-8930 for customers in all other counties.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, L&I, [email protected]
Brandon Cwalina, DHS, [email protected]

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