History of the Rose & George Steinford Toy Foundation

The year is 1932 and the nation is in the grips of the Great Depression.  This depression had devastating effects on the country. The stock market was in shambles. Many banks couldn't continue to operate. Farmers fell into bankruptcy. More than 13 million people, a quarter of the workforce, were unemployed, and this was only the beginning. Many people bartered and traded for food, clothes, shelter and services. Sharing and "making do" became a way of life.

It was at this time that a Northern Kentucky couple recognized that, with all of the economic hardship families were facing, many children in their neighborhood would not experience the joy of Christmas.  Rose and George Steinford, who had no children of their own, began to purchase and repair used toys and assumed the role of Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus for the neighborhood children.  This initiated a life long work for Rose and George, who in the spirit of sharing founded a tradition unique to Northern Kentucky.

The Great Depression ended but still many families, less fortunate than themselves, did not have the where-with-all to make Christmas for their children.  They continued their loving effort and during the next 42 years, the Steinfords’ home and garage grew to resemble our childhood remembrance of Santa's workshop.  They quietly developed a network, securing the names of needy children and anonymously delivering the toys to the families during the Christmas season.

Throughout the year as toys were repaired and refurbished, Rose and George developed their list and packed the gifts for the needy families while the elves, their friends and others whom they had helped in the past, pitched in to handle the distribution of the toys to the families.

In the early 1970’s tragedy struck.  Rose was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery to attempt to eradicate the disease.  She and George continued their effort that year and toys were delivered by the elves.  Rose, though, passed away three days before Christmas in 1973 and it appeared that a tradition and much needed service were passing with her.  George's health was failing and before she died she asked that he not continue the effort in order to gain back his health.

George had given his word to Rose and would not continue the project the next year.  At that time several Covington-Kenton County Jaycees, who had been involved in previous Christmas projects, convinced George to continue to organize the effort at least one more year.  He agreed to help develop the lists and to permit them to use his workshop and other resources but did not feel that the effort could be continued beyond that year.   The success of the project that year and the growing support of his friends convinced George that the effort might continue.  He then formed the "Rose & George Steinford Toy Association, Inc." (The Foundation) to perpetuate the effort and their belief, "that the Christmas spirit will fill a child's heart in time of need."  George proudly watched The Foundation continue his and Rose’s work of love for five more years.  He died in July of 1980.

Our all-volunteer foundation continues this tradition and service through the generosity of the Northern Kentucky community.  We believe, as George and Rose did, that “if your generosity touches one child whose generosity later touches another then it’s all worthwhile.” An annual golf outing in Summer and the Toy Event charity ball at the beginning of the holiday season continue to be our major fundraisers.  Toy drives collecting toys from the employees and customers of local businesses do a tremendous amount to supplement those we are able to buy with our budget. The rest of our funds are received from individual contributors in the greater Cincinnati area.

During the Christmas season of 2018, we provided Christmas presents for more than 3700 needy children in Northern Kentucky.  We are a non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible.