(January 25, 2021) When it comes to holiday toy drives, Julie Martinez (owner of Believe In Carriers Trucking) is as good as it gets. A volunteer and donor at La Casa since 2017, Julie learned the importance of giving back while studying at Seton Hall University. She first heard about La Casa while volunteering with Seton Hall at an event for at-risk youth at one of our centers. The genuine compassion she experienced from La Casa’s staff during that event made a lasting impression on Julie, which led to our eventual partnership.
After starting her own small scale toy drive in 2015, Julie felt it was time to expand her reach. She remembered La Casa from her experience in college and got in touch with our Director of Program & Fund Development, Carrie Puglisi. “There was an instant connection, as I felt Carrie was extremely compassionate and shared some of the same goals I had for the community,” Julie recalls. Martinez used her growing network to collect toys for our Giving Tuesday drive in 2017 and has been an annual supporter ever since.
Motivated by making as big an impact as she could, Julie set out to outperform her prior year’s donation numbers in 2020 but the pandemic forced her to shift focus from the usual in-person fundraising efforts to a virtual approach. Luckily for La Casa, Julie has developed a large social media following as a small business owner, community leader, and role model for strong, independent women. By leveraging her audience on Facebook and Instagram, Julie raiseed enough funds and collected enough toys to fill an entire cargo van full of gifts for La Casa’s kids. Julie also connected Seton Hall University’s Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) with La Casa, who also donated a car full of toys and food.. Not only did the donations make an extraordinary difference, but this new relationship with Seton Hall’s DOVE program will only strengthen La Casa’s impact.
“When I started, my mission was to do whatever I could do to help. But after three years of successful toy drives, my goal is to double the amount of donations I give every year now. I also want to get involved with La Casa’s prenatal program by doing a diaper drive.” Martinez added. For those that think one individual person is limited in the impact they can make, look to Julie Martinez for proof that all it takes is one person to make a world of difference.
The toy drive is a family affair. Martinez’s father helped to deliver the gifts and her mother works with Julie to organize and sort the gifts in their home.