HOUSTON – Sometimes the greatest gift a mother can receive is seeing their child do good in the world. That’s the case for local mom Jessica Dubose whose daughter started a nonprofit at just 9 years old. Lily Dubose, the now 11-year-old founder of Lily’s Toy Box, started giving away toys to kids in need after Hurricane Harvey. Today, she’s helping the families of those hit hardest by COVID-19.
“I started Lily’s Toy Box because I wanted to make kids happy,” said Lily. "Just looking on the bright side of things.”
What started as a small operation of giving her personal toys away to kids in her neighborhood has grown to a legitimate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Jessica explains how the organization came to be due to her daughter’s tenacity.
“We gave toys to a family that flooded, and the husband was a lawyer, and he said, ‘I’ll turn it into a nonprofit for free,'” said Jessica. “I thought, ‘Oh gosh. I have never run a nonprofit,’ and Lily was like, ‘We need to do more.’”
Since then, Lily’s Toy Box has donated more than 5,000 toys to families nationwide and even to a family in Mexico. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic started, operation temporarily ceased.
“I was like, 'What am I supposed to do during this time...I hope that Lily’s Toy Box can still go on. I know it can,” said Lily.
Lily realized many families were affected by the outbreak for a variety of reasons. People who contract the virus are isolated from their families. Children of frontline workers might not see their parents for long periods of time, or in the case of some healthcare workers not at all as a safety precaution. She also thought of the many families affected by unemployment or salary cuts. She decided to use her organization to help the families that were hit hardest by the pandemic.
“We get on Amazon right now, and Lily goes shopping for the child. Then it’s shipped directly through Amazon. We don’t touch it,” said Jessica
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Lily’s Toy Box has shipped more than 125 toys. They’re hoping to get the word out, so that more families can benefit. Lily believes that toys can have a hugely positive impact on a family that is struggling.
“I think it’s really good for them because they can be really sad about the surroundings of COVID right now,” said Lily. “They can put all their feelings on the toy and play with it."
Lily and Jessica love receiving thank you notes, especially ones that are accompanied by photos or videos of children opening and playing with the toys.
For more info on Lily’s Toy Box, click here.