BRONZEVILLE — Samuel Love asked for toys for his 10th birthday Friday — but he didn't plan to play with them.
Instead, Love, launched his second citywide toy drive — this time to help needy children affected by summer floods in Denver and Oklahoma. The drive comes a year after he gathered toys for kids who were victims of Hurricane Sandy, an effort that attracted national attention.
"I want to thank everyone for coming out to help me celebrate my birthday and to help me kick off my second toy drive," Samuel told about 100 people at a news conference at Beasley Elementary School, 5225 S. State St., where he is in fourth grade. "Last year I collected toys for kids in New York who did not have any toys because of the hurricane. Now I need your help again to help kids in Denver and Oklahoma have a good Christmas."
Donations are being accepted until Dec. 17.
Drop-off location include Beasley Elementary; Josephine's Cooking restaurant, 436 E. 79th St., which is owned by Samuel's grandmother; and two McDonald's restaurants, at 1657 W. 95th St. and 8313 S. Ashland Ave., which are owned by Derrick Taylor. More drop-off locations will be added in the next week, according to Victor Love, Samuel's father.
Last year's toy drive collected 800 toys, including $3,000 worth of toys donated by toy-maker LeapFrog.
This year, Samuel is asking for gift card donations instead of toys, which are easier to ship or bring with him: he plans to personally deliver donations to charities in Denver and Oklahoma.
However, new unwrapped toys will aslo be accepted.
This year Samuel said he hopes to collect enough gift cards or money to buy 2,000 toys, which would be split between both cities.
His mother, Evette, said she is not surprised to see her son doing so much to help people at such a young age.
"Sam is not one who you have to ask to do something. He has always been the type of kid to come up with things on his own," recalled Evette. "It warms my heart as a mother to see my son try to help less-fortunate children."
And support for the toy drive is also coming for many places.
"Sam has demonstrated that with him and God there is nothing that isn't possible," said Rev. Keith Williams, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church in south suburban Country Club Hills, where Samuel is a member.
The first person who made a donation to Samuel's cause was his principal.
"He does so much to help others. He teaches all of us by example that giving to others can make a difference," said Kim Brasfield-Carpenter, principal of Beasley Elementary. "Let me be the first to make a donation to your cause, Samuel, and I want you to know that Beasley Elementary School is behind you."
Even though Samuel wanted everyone to focus on helping others, his family did not forget about his birthday. They surprised him with a new bike; he said he can't wait to start riding.
"Maybe if I am lucky I will get out of school early today so I can go home and ride my bike," Samuel said. "Then again, my school work comes first so I probably won't get to ride my bike until the weekend."