PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A soccer tournament that collects toys for the Christmas Angel program got canceled when Phoenix closed all city sports fields this week, but it hasn’t stopped the toy drive from moving forward. The Christmas Angel Tournament would have started Friday, Dec. 4. In a normal year, kids and coaches who play in the tourney donate a toy after they play.
“We’ve had bicycles. We’ve had beds delivered. It’s very exciting to see,” said Chris McConkey with AZ Soccer Events.
When the City of Phoenix canceled all games on public fields just two days before this year’s event, she had to start calling teams to tell them not to come.
In a 7-2 vote, the members decided starting Thursday, Dec. 3, all field allocations and reservations will be canceled. This includes all scheduled youth sports tournaments.
“All the sudden, I was getting emails back from them saying, ‘Sorry to hear this, but we still want to donate our toys!’” McConkey said.
The teams – some local and some not – knew that giving was more important than playing.
“I even have a team from California – the woman says, ‘Chris, what’s your address? I’m mailing you all the toys!’” she said.
Arizona Soccer Association CEO Rick Kelsey and McConkey brought in additional staff and arranged for three drop-off sites – two in Mesa and one in Phoenix – so people can still donate to the Salvation Army’s toy drive.
“We have to keep focus,” Kelsey said. “It is about the kids. And this program was so critical to us.”
Kelsey praised the community as a whole, which he says is still very active in charitable giving, even despite the difficulties of 2020.
“It’s really important that this event, which is such a community event, that we did what we could to get that part taken care of,” he said.
Other non-tournament games will be going on at the Mesa locations, and the tournament organizers invited those teams to bring toys, too. Even people who aren’t involved in soccer at all usually show up to donate. It’s clear that not even a pandemic can stop a big rig full of Christmas toys and joy.
“That’s our goal, is to go get the biggest truck we can possibly find to rent, to have to fill it up, and maybe even make two trips,” Kelsey said.
Donations sites for Saturday, Dec. 5 are as follows:
Eagles Park (828 E Broadway Rd, Mesa 85204)
8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Fear Farm (2209 N 99th Ave, Phoenix 85037)
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Santos Soccer Complex (12347 S Sossaman Rd, Mesa 85212)
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you cannot make it to these locations, toys can be dropped off at the ASA office (2320 W Peoria Ave C123 Phoenix 85029) Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.