Adult entertainers in Portland brought the magic of Christmas to children at Doernbecher Children's Hospital after an online toy drive event.
The sex worker-led charity event raised $13,225 to get toys for the kids at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, using the streaming platform Twitch on Dec. 23. Toys for Tatas bought $15,000 worth of toys, art supplies and books from the Mudpuddles Toys and Books store in Sherwood.
The children's toy store gave a 15% discount so more gifts for children could be purchased.
Aaron Ross is the host of a talk show in the Rose City, Whos The Ross. He's been working in the city's entertainment scene for 12 years. He's been in L.A. the last couple of years and moved back when the pandemic started.
He used to have a late-night comedy show at Dante's for years. Pre-COVID Dante's hosted a show called Sinferno, which connected Ross to the sex workers, dancers and burlesque performers in the adult entertainment and nightlife world.
Since he can't do in-person events, he's been doing his shows virtually online using Twitch to stream his shows. Ross co-hosts the program with a well-known adult entertainer, Toxic Addiction, who performs regularly at the Lucky Devil Lounge. Her Twitter profile also says she's a singer-songwriter and content creator.
Ross said they've been doing the toy drive event for the last 10 years. His following, along with connections to performers, soon made the idea a reality.
He said he wants people to destigmatize sex workers and adult entertainers in the industry who only appear in the news when it's about a story on Boober Eats. Adult entertainers made headlines in Portland when the food delivery service launched at Lucky Devil Lounge in March after the first shutdown.
Ross added these performers have been affected by the pandemic in their industry as well, having to reinvent their jobs working virtually online, along with many other businesses during a global pandemic.
These are real women and performers who care about the community, Ross says, who have huge hearts which is why Toys for Tatas has been wildly successful. Toxic echoed this statement in a tweet on Twitter.
The event itself is tastefully done and shows no nudity. It's PG-13, according to Ross.
The show consisted of the "12 Baes of Christmas" doing various dances filled by talk-show segments with Toxic and Ross.
It's a uniquely Portland event.
100% of the proceeds benefit kids who need it most as many families with children in the hospital face overwhelming, expensive medical bills.
In an emailed statement to KGW, the children's hospital said, "Doernbecher relies on these amazing donations to brighten the spirits of our young patients and help them be more comfortable during their time at our hospital."
"It was an amazing donation that will benefit children of all ages at Doernbecher and will bring joy to all during this particularly challenging holiday season."
Ross said last year's fundraiser was epic and Mud Puddles gave a discount again, donating $11,500 in toys.
But this year's total shattered all expectations.
He said coming into this year, he was unsure how well they'd do since the event was virtual. In a year like this, when people have not felt great, that was a great bonus," Ross said.
When asked why Toys for Tatas was started, he said "That's what we all want, right? Giving kids the magic of Christmas morning, that's what is great and they're so thoughtful at Doernbecher. There's no such thing as too many toys. It's an infinity sign of what we feel like we can do," Ross said.
In the future, the toy fundraiser will be virtual moving forward, allowing for donations to pour in again from around the world.
The pandemic affected toy donations this year because the hospital wasn't allowed to accept any new gifts for months, which is why this year's fundraiser was even more important than in years past.
"Any kid who's in that situation, they're already fighting and so courageous it's even more amazing to make Christmas for them and their families special," Ross said.
Gifts were purchased and dropped off on Christmas Eve then the staff at Doernbecher put together gift bags for the kids that were handed out on Christmas morning.