By Shari Harris, Publisher
Studio Bee in Houston was the location for a toy giveaway on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The parking lot filled with cars and youngsters queued through the room, waiting to choose a toy for Christmas. Also present were superheroes Ironman and Batman, who visited with the children as they waited in line.
Kayla Gaston, owner of the fitness and yoga studio, was instrumental in bringing a Dokaj Foundation Toy Drive to the area to help fulfill the foundation’s mission – to make sure no child was left without a Christmas. When she learned of their toy drive, Gaston volunteered to collect toys at her business location at 501 Holder Drive, just south of the Houston Walmart parking lot. The Dokaj brothers dropped off toy boxes for Gaston to use for the toy drive. Generous donors contributed about 500 toys through Studio Bee. The Dokaj Foundation contributed another 5,000 to 8,000 toys, ensuring that no child would leave Studio Bee on Wednesday without a toy. Toys were also distributed at the WeeCare Daycare at Houston First Baptist Church prior to the giveaway at Studio Bee.
Five years ago, three of the Dokaj brothers decided to share their blessings with children by holding their first toy drive, in the St. Louis area. Annually since then, they have distributed toys to hospitals, to crisis nurseries in shelters, to refugee families and to others in need. The toy drive has expanded to the Springfield area, and this year to Texas County.
Gjovalin and Eva Dokaj emigrated with their oldest son in 1991 from Albania to America, where Xhovani, Franko and Joey were born. The brothers explain the inspiration for their work on the Dokaj Foundation website, http://dokajfoundation.org/. “When we were kids, our parents always told us they moved here to give us a better life. The foundation is our way of paying it forward for what our new home has given us. God has given our family many miracles, so we decided to give a few miracles ourselves with our charity. Another reason we started this charity was because we didn’t want kids to lose hope in their own lives.”