Originally published in the Urbana Daily Citizen – January 14, 2020
Ever since that first year, their toy drive has snowballed into a regional effort that has at least doubled the amount of toys they collected each and every year. Last year’s 4th annual toy drive effort managed to collected a staggering 9,224 toys that they donated to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, which actually set a record for the most toys ever donated in the history of the hospital.
Five years ago the brother and sister team of Tyler and Monica Slaven started a toy drive while in high school at the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), with the dream that children in the hospital on Christmas Day would always have a nice toy to wake up to, putting smiles on their faces. So they teamed up, took a courageous chance in uncharted waters and started out by putting a few donation boxes in area stores, set up a couple bake sales and literally just got the ball rolling.
Remarkably, they managed to do it again this year, and in fact doubled their efforts once more. “Business after business, person after person jumped on board to help be a part of this, said Tyler Slaven, a recent graduate from the University of Northwestern Ohio. “We also had several larger corporations, such as Walmart and Rural King, who stepped up and were very generous donors this year.”
“I am very pleased to announce that together we were able to reach a record setting donation of 20,283 toys this year,” said Slaven. “More than doubling our goal from 9,224 toys last year seemed a bit out of reach, but we set our minds to giving it our all and simply put the rest in God’s hands,” he added.
The whole Slaven family chips in every year to pull off this massive effort. “My whole family and I truly felt that with this being the fifth annual year for the toy drive, we wanted to make it a year worth remembering,” said Slaven. “Monica and I have two younger siblings, our brother Braydon and our sister Payton, both are 12 years old and are twins. They are getting more active and involved with the toy drive each year and it is just great to see how much of an influence all of this has had on them,” he added.
The Slaven family and the Ohio Virtual Academy are very thankful for the incredible generosity of the entire surrounding communities. “After going door-to-door to businesses in community after community, a very large number of people were able to personally connect with how much it truly means to help these kids out. This can be a pretty rough time of the year, not only with the holiday rush but also with financial hardships for the many businesses and independent individuals who helped make all of this happen with their true generosity,” said Slaven.
Slaven is already planning for next year’s toy drive. “With the continued growth and help of our wonderful communities, we look forward to keeping this annual toy drive a tradition for years to come. We will kick off our 6th annual toy drive by October 1, 2020. We will have boxes at many of the same drop-off locations again this year,” noted Slaven.
If you missed out, it is never too late to jump on board. “We set up a donation link this year to help reach as many people as we could to gather funds to purchase toys for the kids. This link will remain open 365 days a year if you would like to make a donation at any time. All proceeds go directly towards new toys for the kids this year in 2020,” said Slaven.
Donations can be made via PayPal using either the link or QR code included in this story: Nationwide Children’s Christmas Toy Drive (https://bit.ly/3a6HTSf)
To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit https://ohva.k12.com/