MINT HILL – Toy for Tots had an extra 800 toys to give out this Christmas thanks to a recent fundraiser by Cheval in Mint Hill.
The community’s developers wanted to do a little extra for the holidays following the 2013 Charlotte HomeArama at Cheval in November. So, they opened the homes up one more time with an entry fee of one toy or a $10 minimum donation. The group collected 889 toys and more than $1,000 by the time the event wrapped up.
“We had a very successful HomeArama and just had wonderful things happening and blessings and setting some records,” Diane Austin, a broker with Builder Developer Advisors, said. “It was just such a blessing for the developers and the homebuilders of Charlotte. We tried to think of how we could participate in giving back.”
After seeing hundreds of people come out for HomeArama, Cheval decided opening the homes to the public one more time, with a few more Christmas decorations, would be the perfect draw to encourage people to donate toys. Organizations wanting to sponsor the event also had to donate toys instead of cash, with the levels of sponsorships ranging from 25 to 50 to 100 toys.
Nearly 270 people came out for the event, on Dec. 6 to 8 and 13 to 15, to tour six models homes in the Cheval community. Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Bellamy Homes, Classica Homes, Evans Coghill Homes and Grandfather Homes each had a model home at the event that was decorated for the holiday season.
“We had a little Santa’s workshop just beautifully decorated with lights and so forth. It was a very beautiful setting and a very, very beautiful opportunity,” Austin said.
No plans have been scheduled for next year, but Austin sees the fundraiser happening again in the future, especially after seeing the response from the community and fellow developers. People who attended HomeArama but were unable to attend the follow-up event still came by to donate toys without touring the homes for a second time, and one group donated 79 toys alone.
“The people were so generous, they always came with more than one toy,” Austin said. “We had people who called and said they came at (the first) HomeArama and just wanted to donate toys. It was just inspiring. I am 38 years in the business this year, and I think this is the most rewarding charity I have been a part of.”
But the visitors at the event weren’t the only ones who made it a success. Many sponsors pitched in, not just with the collection of toys but with promoting the event and spreading the word about the fundraiser, as well.
“It would not have happened without those sponsors,” Austin said. “We had billboards that were donated, radio that was donated. … It would not have happened without those people making it a priority and being so very, very generous.”
Cheval features 237 custom home sites in five neighborhoods near Interstate 485 in Mint Hill. The development participates in and hosts many fundraisers throughout the year, including a recent holiday fundraiser at the Levine Senior Center in Matthews.