Schwinky toy drive starts 6th year
STEVENSVILLE — For the sixth year, the Schwinky family has organized a toy drive where the public can donate toys which are delivered to children with special needs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.
The toy drive is in memory of Michael Schwink of Grasonville who died of melanoma at the age of 23 in June 2009 after fighting the cancer for 18 months. He was a firefighter with the United Communities Volunteer Fire Depart- ment, played Santa there, and had ambitions to be a professional firefighter.
The idea for the toy drive comes from Michael’s family after he died. Michael had a love for children, and when he got sick, the family spent Christmas at the hospital.
“So, that was one of the reasons for the toy drive — to bring cheer to children who are stuck in the hospital during Christmas by bringing them toys,” said Michael’s brother, Chris Schwink of Grasonville.
The family had a kickoff party in October and people donated toys for the drive there. Now the family is putting out boxes at different sites throughout Queen Anne’s County to collect toys.
Most boxes should be placed by now at the following locations: • Rams Head in Stevensville • Dollar General in Stevensville • Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office in Centreville • Centreville Masonic Lodge • Unique Creations in Stevensville • Hardee’s in Stevensville • St. Christopher’s Church in Chester, where there’s breakfast with Santa on Dec. 3 • Pour House Pub in Chester There will be a box at the United Communities Volunteer Fire Department during the week of Dec. 3 to Dec. 9, when the fire department provides Santa Rides. The Santa Workshop is driven through the community and people can get a picture with Santa.
The donated toys should be unwrapped and intended for ages from newborn to 18. Examples of the toys to donate include crayons, coloring books, DVDs, action figures, toy cars and trucks and baby dolls.
The family will collect the toys with the last day being Dec. 15. Then the toys are gathered and delivered to the PACT unit at the Kennedy Kriegar Institute for the children at no cost. “It helps bring cheer to those in the hospital,” Schwink said.
Children who are well enough can pick out their toys at the hospital. Nurses, who are assigned a section of patients, can choose toys for their child patients. Or family members are allowed to choose toys for their children at the hospital. Also, they can choose toys for the patient’s siblings so they have a Christmas, too.
Last year, more than 3,300 toys were given to the children.