It’s that time of year again when the giving spirit is in full swing. Right now in Second Life avatars are working hard to get ready for the Holidays. One particular place in Second Life is focused on making sure children in need gets toys for Christmas. Please meet Rocky Hillburton. For the past 6 years Rocky and his team have been dedicating their time and efforts to raise donations for Toys 4 Tots. In the past 6 years Toys 4 Tots in Second Life with the support of residents raised over $110,000 USD with 100% of funds raised going to the Toys 4 Tots Foundation in Virginia.
This year will mark Toys 4 Tots Sixth Annual Breedable Expo and Fair beginning on November 21st until November 29th. This event will cover two Christmas themed sims dedicated to Breedables as well as an assortment of non-breedable vendors and retailers. Events will include live performances, raffles and a very special auction.
The SL Enquirer caught up with Rocky to learn more about Toys 4 Tots and why it has been such a passion for him.
Interview with Rocky Hillburton
Hi Rocky, let me start of by saying thank you on behalf of the SL Enquirer for being such a proactive member of this community. Second Life needs more people like you with such a big heart and passion for helping others in need, particularly children who depend on us for their needs. How did you get involved with Toys 4 Tots?
Rocky: Originally a man named Pat Wunderland of SL’s Wunderland Records started the Toys 4 Tots in SL campaign. I immediately got involved when I joined SL and opened my club. I was asked by Pat and his team to fill some entertainer spots they needed filled. I filled those spots within the hour for him, twelve in all. He was called away due to real life commitments and asked if I would be interested in taking over the campaign. I have been the head for the past 5 years.
Who are the people that make up your Toys 4 Tots Team?
Rocky: Currently besides myself, there is Shannon Dubatt and Marissa Goodliffe that make up our team.
With this being your 6th year raising donations for T4T, can you share with our readers how much money you have collectively raised so far for children?
Rocky: Prior to my taking the lead we had raised 25,000.00 USD with the help of the SL entertainment industry through the sales of CDs and musical events sponsored by the SL performers. Since my taking the helm we have ventured into the breedable and non-breedable side of things and started the expos. This will be our third expo. With this addition we have raised another 90,000.00 USD that has gone 100% to the real life Toys 4 Tots foundation in Virginia.
WOW, That is impressive! In the real world, people usually donate toys at various drop off boxes at department stores and other places that accept toys donations. That obviously cannot happen in SL. Can you share with us the how you convert Linden donations into a check for Toys 4 Tots?
Rocky: All donations or items sold are through either a donation kiosk or a sales/gacha kiosk that is specifically made and given by the SL Toys 4 Tots foundation. Those funds, either from sales or donated, go directly to a Toys 4 Tots alt. The kiosks and vendors talk to a website to reflect the monies raised. That amount is withdrawn from SL via several alts, because of limitations from LL, and a screenshot is taken of the Lindens taken out and what they were converted to. This screenshot is posted on the website alongside a screenshot of the actual receipt from the real world Toys 4 Tots foundation to show that both match. No funds are ever expended from the monies raised for any purchases of items in SL, sims for the expo and so on.
Thank you for sharing how transparent Toys 4 Tots in SL is about ensuring donated Lindens are going to the foundation.
In Second Life you have a whole sim dedicated to Toys 4 Tots which includes a beautifully decorated Christmas Wonderland themed , Santa’s Workshop, T4T information office, donation kiosks and shop space for vendors. How can retailers get involved in Toys for Tots and rent shop space?
Rocky: We have a main headquarters in SL with a LM available which will take you to a central board that is made to represent the two actual sims. The mock board is laid out identical to the actual sims so people know what and where they are renting the spot. We have three different spots available, bronze, gold and platinum, and the price structure is 2500L, 5000L or 10000L depending on the spot size you wish to rent. All builders and breedable associations are welcome. We have a NC with our TOS of building guidelines and pricing structures as well for anyone interested.
That sounds simple enough. What kind of products do your current retailers offer?
Rocky: We currently have many of the major breedables involved or their auction houses, knick knack shops, building designers and kids clothing and furniture. We are willing to entertain any builders as long as it is not adult in nature.
The 6th Annual Toys for Tots Breedables Expo and Fair is approaching, what can people expect to see at this event?
Rocky: A variety of amazing displays where they can find out more information on each builder, purchase a one of a kind Toys 4 Tots item as well as the builders other items. There will be a giant auction on the final Saturday of the expo and many music events scheduled every day for their entertainment as they browse, shop, play or donate. The music from each performer will be able to be heard from any parcel on either sim.
Sounds like a lot of fun! Can you give us a little teaser about some of the live performers who will be at the event and some of the prizes?
Rocky: We have a huge line up of some of the best performers in SL and would hate to name only a few but know they will have plenty to choose from with all types of music. They are scheduled from the opening day to the final day with a minimum of three shows per day. We have several folks that will be donating some outstanding breedable items that will go in as prizes with spotlight prizes given out at random.
Sponsors and volunteers are a vital part of organizing fundraisers and events in Second Life. How can people get involved in this Toys 4 Tots event and help make this year the best one yet?
Rocky: They can contact Marissa Goodliffe, Shannon Dubratt or myself. Marissa really heads up the contact section for me and is very well equipped to handle any and all questions. We have available donation kiosks that are copy/trans that can be set out at their shops, whether on the expo sims or not, and handed out to their friends to set out as well. This also goes for the vendors (sales/gacha) that can be used anywhere on the grid.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about Toys 4 Tots in SL?
Rocky: The biggest thing I would like to mention is that for all the hard work that is done with Toys 4 Tots, 100% of all monies raised in SL goes to the real world foundation and 98% of that money is used for toys for the kids. If you compare that with other charitable organizations that is an outstanding percentage. No other charitable organization can make that type of claim. We have all fallen on a hard time at one time or another and wished we could have relied on something like this to show our kids something. I believe that a belief in something starts at a young age and if a child cannot believe in Santa then his belief system has already started breaking down.
Very well said Rocky. Thank you so much for taking the time to share what you do with our readers and again for all that you did and still do for many children around the world who have received gifts because of you and the efforts of everyone who has donated to Toys 4 Tots.
Group: Annual T4T Christmas Benefit (SL)
The Official SL Toys 4 Tots info center.
Preferred Contact: Rocky Hillburton, Shannon Dubratt, Marissa Goodliffe