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D.C. Museums in Spirit of Giving

Giving goes hand in hand with the holiday season. Whether generosity takes the form of finding the perfect present for mom or dropping some change in a bell ringer’s bucket, people are more willing to give to others this time of year. And several local museums are trying to make giving a little easier.

‘Yes, Virginia’

Saturday, the Newseum is hosting a toy drive in conjunction with its annual “Yes, Virginia” Family Day. Any child age 7 to 18 who brings in a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots will get free admission to the museum.

The annual event is centered on a reading of the famous 1897 New York Sun editorial “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” which Newseum Senior Education Manager Barbara McCormack said is the most reprinted editorial of all time. The editorial is a response to a letter that a little girl named Virginia wrote to the paper asking whether there was a Santa Claus after her friends told her he didn’t exist. Francis Pharcellus Church wrote back in an unsigned editorial, assuring her that there was.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” Church wrote. “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

McCormack said the themes brought up in the editorial are what inspired the Newseum to introduce the toy drive this year. McCormack said she hopes to make the drive an annual part of the event.

Fight Crime One Toy at a Time

The National Museum of Crime and Punishment also is hosting a drive for Toys for Tots through Dec. 21. Museum visitors who make a contribution to the drive receive a $5 admission discount.

In addition to the holiday-specific Toys for Tots drive, the museum has ongoing partnerships with three charities: the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, the Washington Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States. The museum accepts donations on their behalf. 

Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the museum, said the NMCP worked with Natalee Holloway’s family to form the resource center to fund safe travel programs for children and young adults. The museum is connected with the humane societies through its monthly “Top Dog” contest.

But overall, she said, encouraging people to give, regardless of whether it’s during the holiday season, also helps reduce crime. 

“There has been direct correlation with people giving and driving crime down,” Vaccarello said. “There is this element of giving that when people feel like they’re giving, they feel like they’re connected to the community.” 

Spy to Serve

Just around the corner, the International Spy Museum is collecting unwrapped toys and games for children as well as toiletries, hats, gloves and scarves for the homeless for the DC Jewish Community Center’s Dec. 24 Day of Service. Museum Director of Retail Jodi Zeppelin said it’s the museum’s seventh year participating in the drive. Donations benefit more than 30 organizations.

“We love to actively support the greater D.C. community and make sure that those who may not otherwise have the means to have a happy holiday season, that we can do what we can to ensure that that happens,” Zeppelin said.

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