Girls organize toy drive for kids who’ll spend Christmas in Advocate Children’s Hospital
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org December 20, 2012 4:54PM
Paul Wisnoski listens to a sound coming from a donated toy at a collection box in his Carpet Interiors business in Oak Lawn. Kaylee Zilinger, left came up with the idea to collect toys for children spending Christmas in the hospital and with help from friend Kayla Roman, friends and family they have nearly reached their goal of 100 toys for patients in Hope Children's Hospital. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:17AM
Kaylee Zilinger and her BFF, Kayla Roman, stood next to a mound of new toys that filled a box in an Oak Lawn flooring store.
The two 10-year-olds relied on word-of-mouth and social media to make their own holiday wish come true — bring Christmas to kids who are patients at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.
“It’s not pretty to be in the hospital during the holidays,” Kaylee said.
Her mother, Kimberly, said the girls initially set a goal three weeks ago of collecting 50 toys, but the total will likely rise to 100 or more. On Sunday, they’ll deliver the toys to the hospital.
Kimberly Zilinger’s boss, Paul Wisnoski, let the girls set up collection boxes at his Carpet Interiors/Carpet One stores in Oak Lawn and Orland Park. Wisnoski said one person on Tuesday dropped off a dozen toys at the Oak Lawn store.
He said he was impressed with the girls’ selfless act.
“For these two little girls to do this, to extend yourself beyond a normal child’s thought, is wonderful,” Wisnoski said.
Zilinger said it was her daughter’s idea to start the toy drive, and Kaylee said she’d talked to her mom a few weeks ago about doing something for children who are “less fortunate” than her.
It wasn’t the girl’s first act of charity. Last year she saved change until she’d filled a coffee can, then gave the money to the Animal Welfare League.
“It was mostly silver coins, but there were a few pennies,” she said.
For the toy drive, they had little time to get the word out and figured the most they could hope for would be 20 donations.
Along with people who’ve dropped off donations at the stores, Zilinger said she had family members from California and Maryland send in toys.
“We’ve had donations from Orland Park, Tinley Park, Berwyn, you name it,” she said.
Friday is the last day for donations to be dropped off at the Oak Lawn store, 5849 W. 95th St.
Kaylee and Kayla, both fifth graders who live in Chicago, worked as a team to publicize their effort, telling friends and posting pleas on Facebook.
“She’s, like, my best friend,” Kaylee said of Kayla. “We were friends when we were, like, babies.”
Kayla’s mom, Myrna, said her daughter, whose Christmas wish list includes new headphones and a pair of shoes, has appreciated the fact that what she and her friend are doing will help kids who can’t spend Christmas at home with their families.
“Since Kayla started this (toy drive) she hasn’t asked for one more gift for herself,” her mom said.
Realizing how quickly she and her partner in charity had surpassed their goal, Kaylee could barely contain her excitement.
“I think it’s off the Richter scale,” she said.