Lily Killar, 16, of Slingerlands has been collecting toys for Albany children during the holidays since she was in fifth grade. She estimates 4,000 presents have been collected for 400 families since that time.
BETHLEHEM In elementary school, Lily Killar didn’t understand why toy collections were needed during the holiday season. She asked her mother why so many children needed presents donated to them when Santa Claus would be visiting them on Christmas Eve.
“I didn’t know what to tell her,” said Traci Killar, Lily’s mother. “What do you say?”
Traci, a former Christmas drive coordinator for Catholic Charities, eventually told her daughter that many children didn’t have as many family members as others. The donated presents were needed to supplement the gifts received by Santa.
Since then, Lily has worked to make sure no child is left wanting on Christmas. In fifth grade, the Slingerlands resident began collecting toys for children in need who participated in a non-profit art organization started by the Killar family in Albany’s south end.
“The thing that hits me most, every year at my house and my friends, we always have stuff to open,” said Lily, now 16. “There are people who wake up and there’s nothing for them to open, and it’s just like any other day. It’s not special.”
The Killar’s no longer have their non-profit, but Lily continues her toy drive for city children in need. She estimates she’s collected about 4,000 presents for about 400 families over the years.
“Every year, the number of kids increases,” she said.
The presents do not get donated to a specific organization, but are delivered by Lily herself with her mom as chauffeur. Some of the families the Killar’s have worked with in the past, and others have their names submitted by friends or community members.
“We have a contact who lives in the South End and knows a lot of the families,” said Traci. “Lily makes the connection with her each year to get additional names.”
Lily collects more than 500 presents each year, along with monetary donations.