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.
continued Each family submits a wish list that also states the gender and age of each child. If some kids are looking for a specific toy, Lily uses donated funds to go shopping in order to make sure the child gets their wish.
Since Lily’s efforts are not connected with an agency, Traci said some people are worried about donating because they can’t be positive where the toys or funds are going. This often makes collecting harder. However, for the same reason Lily is able to be a bit more lax with her donations because there are no set rules in place.
For those with special needs, a little more attention is given than would be with other typical holiday drives.
“Last year there was a mom with six kids whose husband had just been murdered, and it was the first christmas without their dad,” said Traci. “Lily was able to decide she wanted to go above and beyond for that family. This year we have a 14-year-old girl who is bed ridden, so Lily will make sure she will get things she can use and also helps the mom.”
In such instances, a tree and Christmas dinner for the family can be purchased along with the toys. The children may also receive toys that are more personalized.
Each child gets about five to six gifts. The presents are also delivered to parents early so they can wrap them themselves and decide if they want them to be labeled from themselves or Santa. Lily rarely gets to meet the children she donates presents to, but she said she’s fine with that because knowing is the same as seeing.
Families also are rarely receiving double presents from other toy drives.
“We haven’t seen a lot of that,” said Traci. “There’s never a lack of people who need during the Christmas season, so that hasn’t been a problem.”
The donation period has nearly ended for this year. Those wishing to donate toys or monetary funds can still do so until Friday, Dec. 13, by e-mailing Lily at email@example.com. She also asks that people keep her in mind for next year’s charitable donations.
“We’re such a small town, but we’re just a few miles away from such need,” said Traci. “A lot of people understand that and help us each year.”