Toys for Tots collecting toys for kids across Chicago area | How to help

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This year's Disney Ultimate Toy Drive is ramping up as we head towards the big Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

Your generosity is more important than ever this year, with so many families still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a big mission to make sure every child gets a toy during the holidays, and each year, Toys for Tots answers the call.

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Disney's Ultimate Toy Drive is underway and we need your help!



"Getting toys at a time like this helps inspire kids' imaginations and creativity," said George Heyman, who oversees the US Marine Corp Reserve's Toys for Tots program.

Toys for Tots fills a great need by collecting toys for kids up to the age of 17 throughout the Chicago area. Heyman said the organization collected over 78,000 toys last year.

Toys are delivered to organizations that turn to Toys for Tots for help, like Christian Life Ministries in Mount Prospect.

"Last Christmas, we had 900 families come through our Christmas giveaway," said Jennifer Schmidt, executive pastor at Christian Life Ministries.

Schmidt said they would not have been able to meet the demand for holiday gifts if it wasn't for Toys for Tots.

"Nothing is better than the smile on a child's face at Christmas time that they didn't think that they would be getting," she said.

The need is also great in the South Chicago area, where, for the past several years, Toys for Tots has helped brighten the holidays for dozens on families in the area.

"We submit them a list of kids and ages and they supply us toys and it's always nice toys," said Tom Kennington, South Chicago Christian Center.

Darius Sims said he remembers as a kid his family not being able to buy toys for Christmas, and how a gift from Toys for Tots made all the difference.

"I got excited and happy and it felt like the best in the world," he recalled.

You can help by donating at ABC7's Toys for Tots drive-thru event next Tuesday, November 30, outside the IHOP restaurant in Melrose Park. You can learn more about the event here.
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