IRVING PARK — For anyone who's ever wanted to play Santa, here's your chance — no beard, red suit or jelly belly required.
All you have to do is give a gift to a total stranger.
The Irving Park Community Food Pantry, 3801 N. Keeler Ave., is in the midst of its annual toy drive, collecting presents for clients' children.
On the pantry's wish list: new, unused toys for infants and children up to age 12; family games; new or very slightly used books for teens; small stuffed animals that can fit inside stockings; hats, mittens, scarves and gloves that are new or handmade.
Volunteers are also needed to help count the toys on Dec. 15, set up the toy distribution room on Dec. 17 and help hand out the toys on Dec. 18. Contact toy drive co-chairwoman Barb Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in volunteering on any of those dates.
Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at various locations:
• Irving Park United Methodist Church, 3801 N. Keeler Ave. (home of the pantry's food distribution operation)
• St. John's Episcopal Church, 3857 N. Kostner Ave.
• Irving Park Lutheran Church, 3938 W. Belle Plaine Ave.
• Starbucks, corner of Irving Park Road and Kostner Avenue.
• Golden Nugget, corning of Irving Park Road and Tripp Avenue.
The Irving Park Community Food Pantry serves Chicagoans who live in the 60641 and 60618 ZIP codes. Approximately 23,000 people within the pantry's boundaries live below the poverty line.
During the pantry's most recent distribution day, just before Thanksgiving, volunteers provided food and other assistance to 589 people in 208 households.