Ama International hosts toy and fundraising drive for those in need

Courtesy Ama International

A nonprofit serving Grand Rapids and Mexico is holding its second annual toy drive in partnership with more than 20 local businesses to bring joy and hope to more than 100 West Michigan families in need this holiday season.

The Ama International multi-city toy drive will benefit immigrant families and impoverished children in West Michigan, as well as families in need in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico. Toys will be distributed to Grand Rapids families in need on Monday, Dec. 20. Toys can be picked up by local immigrant families or delivered directly to their homes by Ama volunteers.

Those wishing to help for the 2021 holiday season can donate new, unwrapped toys at any of the drop-off locations listed on Ama International’s website. The organization’s Amazon Smile wish list is available here.

The remaining toys will be donated to children in Zapopan. The organization will continue to collect toys and shop discount toys after the first of the year, as toy distribution day in Mexico is Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

“(Being able to make) an impact in 2020 with this drive led us to expand our efforts in 2021,” said Erika Plunkett, co-founder and executive director of Ama Without Borders. “Last year we were able to provide 56 disadvantaged families in Grand Rapids with food and gifts while also sending 800 toys to be distributed in Zapopan. We can’t wait to make an even bigger impact this year.”

Last year, Ama International provided more than $300,000 in emergency aid and resources, including water, via semitruck delivery to more than 1,000 impoverished families and children affected by a flood in July that wiped out 86 homes and 10 neighborhoods in Zapopan. Families affected by floods are still working to rebuild their lives and are temporarily staying with other families, in temporary shelters, or camping in makeshift housing until they can rebuild their homes. Ama also provided an additional $100,000 at the end of July for international relief aid.

In Grand Rapids, Ama provides for more than 100 local immigrant families from across the globe who now live in West Michigan. The organization has taken cases for new Americans and refugees since 2018 and helps these families by providing legal services through its partners Lighthouse Immigration Advocates, Immigrant Connection, Bethany Christian Services and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.

Ama International also provided aid to more than 4,000 local immigrants and underserved individuals who did not have government aid programs available to them during the pandemic. The organization, with the help of grants from Spectrum Health and the CARES Act, provided communities with food and essentials for months amid shutdowns. The organization later sought out families who needed supplemental assistance throughout the 2020 holiday season and continues to provide for families in need each year and throughout the holidays.

More information on drop-off locations, sponsorship levels and other ways to help is available online or by contacting Plunkett at

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