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Toy drive makes kids 'light up as bright as the Christmas tree'

Kids served by the Puerto Rican Family Institute play with toys donated through TODAY's Toy Drive.
Kids served by the Puerto Rican Family Institute play with toys donated through TODAY's Toy Drive.Puerto Rican Family Institute

TODAY Toy Drive donations go to hundreds of nonprofit family organizations located in all 50 states. The Puerto Rican Family Institute is one such group. Find out about its mission below, and donate online to TODAY's Toy Drive here

Devonte, 14, was removed from his mother's care early in life. He bounced around the foster care system for years, impacting his social and emotional development. 

With help from the Puerto Rican Family Institute's programs and a loving foster father, Devonte has begun to turn his life around, according to Migdalia Rivera-Taratunio, director of Development at the Institute.

He's attending class, keeping his grades up and schooling kids on the basketball court. 

The Puerto Rican Family Institute and TODAY have joined together for the past 12 years to make dreams come true during the holidays for families and children in need, just like Devonte. 

"When families receive toys, appliances, books, clothing and winter wear, their faces light up as bright as the Christmas tree," Rivera-Taratunio told TODAY. "It’s such a wonderful feeling to be able to provide a source of joy for less fortunate families."

The Puerto Rican Family Institute was founded in 1960 with a mission to strengthen families. They offer culturally sensitive services for mental health, child abuse prevention and homelessness prevention. The Institute helps more than 25,000 families and kids of all ethnic backgrounds each year in New York City, New Jersey and Puerto Rico

For many children that the Institute serves, the TODAY toy is the only gift they receive during the holiday season. The donations provide the Institute's poorest children holiday memories they can treasure.  

Donate to TODAY's Toy Drive online here.

Read about other nonprofit organizations served by TODAY's Toy Drive.