Riverdale police Officer Dan Dempsey appreciates the care and attention his 16-year-old son, Bobby, has received since being diagnosed earlier this year with leukemia.
To repay that kindness, Dempsey is collecting donations of toys and other presents that can be given to other sick children.
“They’ve been so good to him,” Dempsey said of the people at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. “This is really the least I can do,” adding that he was inspired by children at the hospital playing in the toy room.
Dempsey, whose garage contains about 500 toys collected so far, said he plans to supplement the hospital’s toy supply with his effort.
Many of the toys collected already are geared toward younger children, he said. So while he’s willing to accept dolls, trucks or other playthings for young people, Dempsey said he would like potential donors to consider giving presents that could be used by older youth such as his son.
“They’re not into toys, but they would still enjoy a present,” Dempsey said.
Lansing Village Clerk Patty Eidam, who has set up a special collection box in the lobby of Village Hall, 3141 Ridge Road, said people could consider an iTunes gift card, which would allow young people to purchase a few songs for their iPods.
“A lot of people think about these types of events in terms of younger children,” Eidam said. “They’re thinking of the 4-year-old instead of the 14-year-old.”
Dempsey was a partner to Riverdale police Detective William “Wally” Rolniak, a police officer killed while on duty in 2004. Dempsy said Rolniak’s widow, Maureen, was among the first people to make a contribution.
Dempsey a Highland resident, is focusing his collection efforts in Northwest Indiana and south suburbs near the state line.
In Illinois, people can go to United Liquors, 21579 U.S. 30 in Lynwood, or the Village Hall in Lansing, while people in Indiana can drop off toys at the All State Insurance office, 1467 Joliet St. in Dyer; the Northwoods Hearty Home Cookin’ & Saloon, 8101 U.S. 41 in Schererville, or the Salon Capellani, 2152 45th St. in Highland.
Dempsey said he plans to visit all the locations on Dec. 19 to pick up the presents, and deliver them to the hospital the following day.