DYER — Northwest Indiana nonprofit Region Kids for Comfort collected close to 500 toys in its winter fundraiser this year.
The nonprofit, led by 16-year-old Adam Akan, is partnered for the first time with Toys for Tots to help provide toys for families in need this holiday season.
The fundraiser began Dec. 10 and extended through Sunday with families in the Briar Ridge neighborhood asked to drop off toys for children of all ages at Akan's home.
The Akan family collected donations in a MI-BOX storage container — provided for free by the Northwest Indiana arm of the national moving and mobile storage company — which sat in their yard for the duration of the event.
Akan said nearly 500 toys and $300 in cash donations were collected by the end of the December period of giving.
Akan posted to the nonprofit’s social media accounts and, with 10 volunteers from across the Region, took his message door-to-door leaving fliers at close to 300 homes.
Donations included everything from footballs and basketballs to toy kitchen sets.
Akan said despite the coronavirus pandemic’s added challenges, he felt it was important to keep up Region Kids for Comfort’s tradition of giving back.
“It may not feel like it, but it’s still Christmas,” Akan said. “Who doesn’t want to give a kid a toy for Christmas?”
Akan, a junior at St. Ignatius College Prep in Illinois, has led other fundraisers through his Region Kids for Comfort organization, which seeks to engage youth in fundraising efforts that give back to the local community.
In the past, Region Kids for Comfort has collected items for a women’s and children’s shelter in Gary. It also “flocked” a neighbor's yard with pink flamingos to encourage donations benefiting Chasing Dreams, a Merrillville-based nonprofit that offers free education, skills and independence programs to children and adults with special needs.
While the Region Kids for Comfort most recent fundraiser is drawing to a close, Akan said he hopes families will feel inspired to pursue their own acts of giving during the holidays.
“We’ve got a lot of love and a lot of generosity in the community,” Akan said. “Give whatever you can.”
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