Schwinky Toy Drive collects over 2,300 toys
STEVENSVILLE — The Schwink family and friends delivered more than 2,300 toys collected by the eighth annual Schwinky Toy Drive to the children’s unit at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore on Dec. 15.
This was the first year of delivering toys to sick children at UMUC. Previously, the toys collected by the drive have gone to Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and its associated PACT Unit and, before that, to Nemours/alfred I. Du Pont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
“The University of Maryland Hospital staff were very excited and helpful unloading all the boxes with us,” Pat Schwink said. “It just turned out wonderful.”
She said one nurse came out and looked in the truck because she wanted to see want 2,000 toys looked like.
“Another nurse was so thrilled she hugged my father so hard, he said he thought she was going to pop his ears,” Schwink said. “All the staff made our trip to University of Maryland very enjoyable. They really treated us kindly.”
The toy drive is organized in memory of Michael Schwink, who died in 2009 at the age of 23 after battling melanoma for a year and a half. His family — mom Pat, dad Glenn, brother Chris and his wife Jen and daughter Sadie — with the help of friends and area businesses, organized the toy drive in Michael’s memory because he was so fond of children and played Santa Claus at the United Communities Volunteer Fire Department, where he was a member.
They were joined Dec. 15 for the toy delivery by Michael’s grandfather, 86-year-old Garrett German, who was hugged by the nurse, and friends Merritt Polcak, Quinten Polcak, and Claire Polcak, Melissa Rousseau and Dustin Rousseau, Sara Dawes, Maddie Brown, Kari Oulahyane, Marty Apple and Kay Alston.
They unloaded the toys and placed them in a specially decorated room, “The Forest Room,” where parents and children were able to come and pick out presents make their hospital stay a little merrier, Schwink said. “We saw some of the children, but with it being flu season and all, we didn’t get to see a whole lot of the children.”
Hospital staff later relocated the presents to “The Snow Pile Room” where parents could pick out gifts from Santa to be wrapped and delivered Christmas Eve, she said.
The hospital posted pictures of the delivery on its Facebook page. “This year, the Schwinks donated more than 2,300 toys to our Children’s Hospital. Wow! THANK YOU for making the winter holidays brighter for our youngest patients,” the staff wrote.
The exact number of toys collected was 2,323, Chris Schwink said, several hundred more than last year.
United Communities Volunteer Fire Department continues to be one of the drive’s biggest supporters, Pat Schwink said. The fire department collects toys at its annual Breakfast with Santa and during its Santa runs in the neighborhoods it serves on southern Kent Island.
St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Chester collected toys during its Breakfast with Santa and is a regular supporter, as is the Kent Island Cruisers classic car club, she said.
She thanked Ed Beers for allowing the toy drive to be part of the Santa Con. Rams Head Shore House, El Jefe Mexican Kitchen in Stevensville and Pour House Pub in Chester all collected toys for the Schwinky Toy Drive during the event.
The Masonic Lodges in Centreville (Lodge 180) and Chestertown (Lodge 115) collected toys, so did the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Schwink said. Other businesses included Hudson Marine in Grasonville, Chick-fil-a on Kent Island and Academy Terriffic Tanning in Centreville. A group of youg women also contributed, she said.
“We just want to thank everyone who supported the Schwinky Toy Drive for another year,” Schwink said.
A group of volunteers in the Forest Room at University of Maryland Medical Center with their delivery of toys from the Schwinky Toy Drive. Pat Schwink is seated right of center.
Melissa and Dustin Rousseau, in truck, pass toys out to other volunteers. From left: Glenn Schwink (leaning on truck), Sara Dawes, Maddison Brown and Garrett German.