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Chicago Church Seeks Public Help With Toy Drive as COVID-19 Leads to Spike in Requests

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Another Chance Church of Chicago is busy preparing for its ninth annual toy drive, and this year, they’ll have their work cut out for them due to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The church’s “Operation Cover Chicago 2020” is seeking to donate 20,000 toys this holiday season, but just nine days before the toy drive, they are still 19,000 toys short of that goal.

Kenyatta Smith, pastor of the church and CEO of Operation Covered Chicago, says that the church received more than 20,000 requests this holiday season, as families seek a little bit of help before the holiday season.

That number is nearly double what the church received last year, and while the church regularly hits its goals, the coronavirus pandemic has put a big dent in its efforts so far.

“I’m seeing desperation,” Smith said. “I’m seeing a lot of hopeless situations and we just feel like it’s our mission to help change that narrative for a family.”

Church officials say that they normally have pews stacked with toys for the event, but this year they have just one table full of toys. The church says it will accept a wide variety of toys, including games, dolls, Hot Wheels cars and headphones, but any help is deeply appreciated with the toy drive nearing.

“I still have this picture of a little boy who walked out with a TV and had this big grin on his face, and I still see that in my head,” volunteer Keith Whitfield said. “I have faith and with God’s help we’re going to make it happen.”

With just nine days to go, Smith says that the toy drive is a very special way to give residents hope in what has largely been a year devoid of hope.

“It’s important for us not to just meet the need of the community, but to give hope in a hopeless situation,” the pastor said.

The toy drive will take place on Dec. 18. Residents interested in helping can bring a toy or money between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to the church at 9550 South Harvard in Chicago. Those interested in helping can also call 773-253-7474.

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