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posted: 12/24/2012 1:53 PM

3,500 toys donated to children at Park Ridge hospital

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Submitted by Advocate Children’s Hospital

A 29-year-old Niles woman is making Christmas dreams come true for patients and families at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge this holiday season.

Yianna Manokas, a volunteer at the hospital, goes from room to room to help children forget about the reason they are at the hospital through play, watching movies, or simply striking up a conversation.

"They are so open and wonderful to spend time with," she said. "I feel like I am able to connect with all of them."

Manokas, creative director for TransWorld Exhibits in Northfield, came up with the idea of asking attendees of the company's December Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show in Rosemont to donate toys as they entered. Approximately 3,500 new toys were donated to be used for the holiday season and in 2013 birthday and going-home parties.

"I was amazed with the generosity people showed by bringing in multiple gifts for the children," Manokas said.

Kevynne Smith, child life specialist at the hospital, said the donation is "absolutely amazing. Yianna already gives her time and talent as a volunteer, and the donation and to organize toy drives for the children is proof of what a special person she is."

Manokas also has collected more than 40 gifts during a holiday party she hosted for family and friends. And she helped coordinate a toy drive at Neiman Marcus in Oak Brook that will result in the delivery of even more toys to the hospital later this month.