'A Christmas miracle': Hoffman Estates toy drive exceeds goal in half the time

Facing a daunting one-week time frame to collect 2,000 toys for Hoffman Estates children in need, organizers felt great relief this week when that goal was exceeded in only four days.

"It's just awesome," said Joane McLeod, the wife of Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod. "People are wonderful and generous beyond belief."

The quickly assembled toy drive for an upcoming invitation-only Gift Market was announced on Thanksgiving with a deadline of Friday - exactly a week after Black Friday.

The effort is a partnership between Hoffman Estates village officials and Harvest Community Church. It seeks to assist financially struggling families who have been identified by social workers, with many of the children attending a local school without an active parent-teacher organization.

Because of the time needed for notifications to be made to the schools and families, there was a danger in creating expectations that possibly might not be met.

"I think we were all terrified," Joane McLeod said. "What do you do if you don't have 2,000 toys? How do you cut it off?"

Though it's not yet known exactly how many toys were received - possibly another 500 passed through the McLeods' living room on Thursday alone - more than 1,500 were delivered early in the week by Realtor and Hoffman Estates Park District Commissioner Linda Dressler.

She said she regularly collects toys through monetary donations to Dollar Tree stores' Operation Homefront initiative. Though the program primarily focuses on families on military installations, Dressler finds other places to distribute the toys in the community.

After reading about the new toy drive in the Daily Herald last week, she asked Joane McLeod if there was interest in her collection.

"She's one of the do-gooders," McLeod said. "It was just a Christmas miracle."

"I believe in doing what you can for the community," Dressler said. "It's fun! I get to feel like Santa Claus."

Teen volunteers will begin dividing up the pile of stuffed animals, Lego sets, board games and other toys into age categories Friday night for the Gift Market.

The invited families will be asked for only a nominal donation to help with the startup costs for a new parent-teacher organization likely able to further assist them in the future.

If there prove to be more toys than needed, there will still be enough time before Christmas to find another local charitable destination for what's remaining, McLeod said.

Hoffman Estates teams with local church to seek 2,000 toy donations for local kids in need

More than 2,000 toys were collected for an upcoming Gift Market for financially struggling families in Hoffman Estates. Courtesy of Joane McLeod
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.