DEGRAFF – Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus received a truckload of about 3,000 toys on Dec. 17 as a result of an annual toy drive spearheaded this year by Ohio Virtual Academy junior Tyler Slaven of DeGraff. As president of the online high school’s Agriculture Society, Slaven was able to enlist the help of about 20 volunteers to set up donation boxes in all 88 Ohio counties.
This toy drive began in 2015 when Tyler’s sister, Monica, then a senior and Logan County Fair Queen, began collecting toys for a senior project and chose the Nationwide Children’s Hospital as the recipient. According to Tyler, donations nearly tripled this year, and his sister continues to be involved.
“The Logan County community, as well as the many other communities around the state, were extremely generous in their donations,” Tyler said. “It truly takes a group effort to be able to reach this many kids. Everyone has to work together, and that is just what everyone did. It is really unfortunate that these children have to be in the hospital, let alone during Christmas time. The least we can do is try to brighten their day, and put a smile on their face, by providing them a toy on Christmas morning.
The Slavens begin their holiday season each year with a bake sale at Bellefontaine’s Tractor Supply Co. in November. One hundred percent of all donations collected are used to purchase toys for the drive. Tyler said he decorated several donation boxes with gift wrap, and a dedicated staff contributed to setting up boxes in other locations. They continue collecting toys and donations until they drop them off at the hospital just before Christmas.
“Seeing all of those kids in the hospital really makes you realize how fortunate a lot of us are to have all of the things that we do,” he said. “Both my sister, Monica, and I always look forward to doing the Toy Drive each year. Between the two of us, we are able to visit many of the businesses within Logan County, asking them for their support. We are just blown away by the generosity of the community. Almost everyone found a way to support the cause, whether that be by making monetary donations, purchasing toys, or by the donation of the use of a U-Haul truck to transport the 3,000 toys to the hospital. It is amazing to see how much of a difference can be made when everyone steps up and works together.”
Tyler said he hopes to eventually pass his organizational responsibilities to his younger brother and sister, twins who are in 5th grade. Their parents are Mandy and Justin Slaven of DeGraff.