Annual Holiday Toy Drive Directly Benefits Students from JSEC, Highlander & Nathaniel Green Schools




On Sunday December 12th, 2021, The Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex once again (participating in this 5th Toy Drive) teamed up with Highlander Charter School and Nathaniel Green Middle School.  All 3 Providence sister schools have been fortunate enough to work with Michael Slade, a bartender at the the Dark Lady/Alley Cat (DL/AC), who uses his Dec 12th Birthday to have an amazing Toy Drive to benefit kids in Providence.  During the toy donation/fundraiser event, held at the Dark Lady/Alley Cat located on Snow Street,  there was lots food, drinks, fun, & cheer.  There were also performances which included: singers, dancers, lip sync, holiday music.  It was heartwarming to see the owners not just sponsor the event but that they got into the act by serving food and even dressing up as the Grinch.    The two owners: Rande Diantuono and Buck Asprinio are the owners of this local establishment in Providence, which prides itself with ensuring all groups are represented in the community, diversity is celebrated, and that they give back to many different groups in our community.

Pictured: Buck Asprinio(Owner of the DL/AC), Donna Asprinio, & their wonderful Sister and Father
Pictured: Rande Diantuono(Owner of the DL/AC) dressed as the Grinch to add some Holiday Fun to the Toy Drive

On Thursday, Dec 9th, Michael Slade, before the Toy Drive, made a special visit to JSEC and met with some of our students, our Family Engagement Coordinator, and teachers to see what JSEC was all about. JSEC staff gave a quick tour, spoke for a bit, and then participated in creating a quick video clip to promote the upcoming Toy Drive. In the video they spoke about how the toys go to families and how donating or attending could provide much needed assistance during the Holidays! Upon leaving JSEC was able to give Michael a bagful of games and toys donated by JSEC Staff.


On Monday Dec 20th, JSEC will be distributing just some of the toys during their Annual ECS Holiday Celebration where we will have Santa arrive, with members of the JSEC Kindness Crew dressed up as elves. They will join together to surprise students with large gift bags with toys in it from the Toy Drive that was held. Organizers of the Toy Drive met with each teacher to create a ‘wish list’ of sorts to fill the bags with kid-appropriate level toys that they would enjoy. The organizers also had a list of families of whom bags of toys would be delivered to about a week prior to the Holiday break.

Pictured: Ms. Chisholm dropping dropping some gifts for the Toy Drive

This event has added to the spirit of the Holidays and we even had some quotes to share:


It’s truly magic, the kids are so thankful and full of joy upon receiving these gifts“-Ms. Medina ECS Teachers

It’s like Angels come down and sprinkle our school with gifts during the Holiday“-Yeimy

I am filled with gratitude for Michael Slade’s spirit and generosity that has impacted thousands of kids over the years. I know that Highlander families who are in need have benefited from the toy drive as have students from Nathaniel Greene and Juanita Sanchez, along with other organizations over the years.” Jeanne D’Agostino

“What Michael, Rande, and Buck do for the Providence Community is 2nd to none–we do so much with the toys and games from this event and are fortunate to be able to see the expressions on many of the kids and families faces upon receiving them “-Charles  Moreau

What an exceptional day / night I had at the Alley Cat/ Dark Lady for my annual birthday Toy Drive”  Thank you everyone.

I love you❤“–Michael Slade

Pictured: R/L Michael, Jeanne D’Agostino, Michael Slade, Donna Asprinio, & Charles Moreau
This is a miracle that all these people care enough about our school to do this“-Miguel
“Michael Slade’s birthday bash toy drive was a HUGE success! On behalf of all of the families and children who will receive these gifts- thank you , thank you , thank you to all who so generously donated toys, cards, cash, time and talent!!!!!!!”
-Donna Asprinio (Nathaniel Green)

The fact that they do this much for our school without asking for anything in return makes this so much more special.  I remember seeing the student elves a couple of years ago and glad this year I  get to be one of them, I’m so excited“-Damaris

This year we are able to provide hundreds of toys/games/bike/scooters, etc…to many students and families here at JSEC.  Last year unfortunately we were unable to have the Toy Drive but instead Teachers all donated and JSEC was able to provide one Holiday stocking to each and every students. Needless to say it was well received by our students; however, it lacked the ‘pop’, the excitement, and the fun that we have been used to over the past 5 years from the ECS Holiday Christmas Party we have.  We are so thankful that the Toy Drive is back and that we are able to return to our Annual Holiday school celebrations. It was once quoted that if you have power to make someone happy, DO IT, the world needs more of that!  This remarkable event does just that, and most definitely adds joy and happiness to so many.


To become involved in next year’s Annual Toy Drive be sure to contact any of the organizers listed in this article at any of the 3 Providence Schools, Michael Slade himself, or Rande and Buck.  They accept donations which include toys, clothes, gift cards, bikes, scooters, cash, books, etc… Congratulations to all on a very successful 2021 Holiday Toy Drive!