10TH YEAR OF SHARING: Bank Independent kicks off 2020 Toy Share

It’s the 10th year since Bank Independent employees looked at one another and said, “How can we help?” The area was reeling after the massive tornado outbreak of April 2011, but a new initiative was on the horizon, designed to give hope to those most in need.

“That Christmas we started collecting toys, and that kind of kicked it all off,” explained Chris King, marketing director for Bank Independent, during a previous Toy Share. “It was so easy to get behind it and get all of our team members excited about it – and our customers as well. When you’ve found something people can throw themselves behind like that, you know you’ve found the right thing.”

So Toy Share became the first of Bank Independent’s Helping Hands Share Drives – to be joined by School Share, Food Share and Shelter Share. The program has grown each year since its inception.

Bank Independent will kick off its 10th annual Toy Share drive Nov. 13 for area children. From Nov. 13 through Dec. 4, the bank will accept donations of new, unwrapped toys at any Bank Independent location and offer two “less-hands-on” ways to lend a helping hand: monetary donations through PayPal and item donations through an Amazon shopping wish list.

All items will be distributed to local children in need through partner organizations across north Alabama.

“The generosity of our friends and neighbors makes a huge impact in the lives of children in our own communities,” said Macke Mauldin, president and CEO of BancIndependent Inc., the parent company of Bank Independent. “We know this year will look a little different from previous years as we adjust to the restrictions placed upon us all by the current pandemic; however, I’m confident this year we’ll make Christmas morning brighter for more families than ever before.”

In 2019 the Bank’s Toy Share drive provided more than 3,688 toys and more than $730 in cash donations to partner organizations in time for distribution to local families for Christmas.

“The 2020 Toy Share drive will still have ambitious goals, but we will also focus on the safety and convenience of everyone involved,” explained Nikki Randolph, Bank Independent community engagement officer. “We are establishing drive-by collection events over a four-week period so donors can drop off toys. Based on the success of previous drives this year, we’re using Paypal to accept monetary donations on our bibank.com/help page, and for a touchless shopping alternative, we’re offering a link to an Amazon wish list with pre-selected gift ideas for infants up to teenagers.”

Toy Share donation and shopping links can be found at bibank.com/help.

Drive-by collection events will take place at local Bank Independent sales offices. Russellville’s event will be Nov. 20. Surrounding drive-by events will include in Decatur and Moulton Nov. 13, in Muscle Shoals and Athens also Nov. 20, Florence Nov. 27 and Madison and Lexington Dec. 4. All events will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I think Christmas just resonates with people. The idea of a child waking up on Christmas morning and not having that experience to share with their family is something people struggle understanding,” Randolph noted during a past year’s drive. “Christmas just touches people’s hearts.”

Charitable organizations distributing Toy Share donations include the Angel Tree Program in partnership with Lexington High School, Christmas Charities Year Round of Madison County, Committee on Church Cooperation in Morgan County, Cornerstone Church in Lawrence County, Department of Human Resources in Franklin, Lawrence and Limestone Counties, Lauderdale County Christian Children’s Home, Rogersville Volunteer Fire Department, Safeplace of the Shoals and William Porter Foundation of the Shoals.

In Franklin County, donation bins are available at all branch locations – in downtown Russellville, the branch on the highway and the two branches in Red Bay.