DeGRAFF – The bar has been raised this year by Tyler Slaven and his sister Monica. The local brother/sister duo started a toy drive while in high school five years ago and it has blossomed into a regional, if not national, success story.
The Slavens, who live in DeGraff, set a goal this year to collect over 18,000 toy donations.
“This year we have set the stunning goal to collect a total of 18,448 toys for the children, which would be exactly double the donation size we received last year. This is certainly a very significant amount of toys; however, with God’s leading guidance, the great generosity of the community, and a little bit of hard work; anything is possible.” said Tyler Slaven.
That would be a 100% increase from the record-setting 9,244 toys they collected last year and donated to the Columbus Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
For the last four years the toy drive more than doubled each year. “Last year we had a total of 9,224 toys we donated to the hospital, which was the largest donation in its history,” said Slaven.
“We have started our efforts a little earlier this year in hopes to reach more businesses,” added Slaven.
Full-scale collection operations have not begun yet this year. “A full list of our drop-off locations for donation boxes have not been finalized yet, as all the boxes will be out by November 1,” said Slaven. Be sure to check your local grocery, retail stores and libraries for one of the Slavens’ donation boxes. Their final list of donation sites will be made public by November 1.
The Slavens have been able to get the support of many area businesses and organizations to place one of their toy drop-off boxes in their establishments, so customers and patrons can donate toys. Last year the Slavens had over 25 donation box locations throughout the region including boxes in Urbana, Lima and surrounding communities, including Indian Lake, Sidney, Springfield, Mechanicsburg, Bellefontaine, Anna, Botkins, Zanesfield, West Liberty, St. Paris and others.
The Slavens also use bake sales as a way of raising funds to buy more toys for the toy drive.
“We changed a few things up this year, we are going to do our bake sales in October in hopes to reach more people while the weather is a little warmer,” said Slaven.
“Lane Lube Express, of Bellefontaine will be donating the use of a U-Haul to transport the toys up to the hospital again this year,” said Slaven. “We are taking everything up to Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Sunday, December 16 this year.”
Slaven just graduated from the High School and University of Northwestern Ohio simultaneously this past June at age 18 with an Associate’s Degree in agri-business. He and his sister developed a loyal team of family and friends who pitch in and help them out with their toy drive, including volunteers from the Ohio Virtual Academy Agricultural Society, of which Tyler is a graduate and also current president.
“Anyone from the community is able to easily make an online donation by using the following link (https://tinyurl.com/ybalnwxw), or scanning the QR code accompanying this story. “No donation is too small,” adds Slaven.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.