CHATHAM — A South Side 10-year-old who has become known for helping those in need has expanded a holiday toy drive hoping those hit by a recent tornado in Washington, Ill. will have gifts on Christmas.
Samuel Love, a fourth-grader at Beasley Elementary School, launched a citywide toy drive for kids affected by tornados in Oklahoma and Denver in October. After the November tornados hit his home state, however, he decided to send gifts to Washington, Ill., as well.
"I didn't want them to think I forgot about them by only donating to kids out-of-town. My dad has always told me that charity starts at home," Love said. "No kid should be sad on Christmas, but I know without a Christmas tree or toys you can't help but be sad."
Toys collected between Dec. 14-18 will be donated to children in Washington, said Victor Love, Samuel's dad.
"Sam and I will drive down to Washington to deliver the toys personally," he added.
On Black Friday, Samuel and his dad went to Toys R Us in southwest suburban Orland Park and purchased toys to donate. An additional 75 toys were dropped off Thanksgiving weekend at Josephine's Cooking restaurant, 436 E. 79th St., which is owned by his grandmother, Josephine Wade.
According to Victor Love, 754 toys have already been shipped to Lyons Middle/Senior High School in Lyons, Colo. for distribution, and 300 toys went to Hilltop Baptist Church in Norman, Okla. Last year, Samuel netted 800 toys, including $3,000 worth of toys donated by toy-maker LeapFrog during his first citywide toy drive that benefited New York children affected by Hurricane Sandy. The goal this year is to collect 2,000 toys or gift cards to give away before Christmas.
Samuel's efforts are being assisted by the Chatham 14 Theaters, which holds its own toy drive every year.
"We want to help this young man reach his goal by donating toys we receive through our drive," said Venisha White-Johnson, manager of the theater at 210 W. 87th St. "And by us staying open late I figured more toys could be collected. Plus we have a parking lot to make it more easy for people who may need to make more than one trip to the car."
The toy drive is also getting support from the Love family's suburban church.
"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 Country Club Hills.
Kim Brasfield-Carpenter, principal of Beasley Elementary, was the first to donate to Samuel's cause.
"He does so much to help others. He teaches all of us by example that giving to others can make a difference," Brasfield-Carpenter said.