NORTH BABYLON, New York -- As soon as you walk down into Emily Meyer's basement, you can see mountains of stuffed animals and toys of all kinds organized into different age groups.
Meyer now refers to it as 'Toy Central' since she started 'Emily's Awesome Toy Drive' 10 years ago.
The inspiration behind the toy drive was Meyer's own experience of getting sick on Christmas day and being rushed to the hospital. She woke up to a volunteer from the Child Life Program who handed her a Christmas present.
Even though she already had presents at home, the program insisted that every child be presented with a gift on Christmas.
Meyer decided to create her own toy drive with help from her grandfather, so she could give back to the people who need it the most.
"We collected about 20 or so toys the first year," said Meyer. "Every year from then on it just grew and grew and grew and grew. It just became this whole big thing."
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Meyer asks for donations of new, unwrapped toys to be donated to Good Samaritan, as well as Cohen Children's Medical Center, Stony Brook University Hospital, The John Theissen Foundation, Angela's House, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Earlier this year, Meyer was worried that the toy drive would have to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so she started collecting and donating toys in the summer. Meyer managed to find a contactless way to collect toys by creating an Amazon gift list.
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"When kids are able to play and use toys to distract them it makes a stay at the hospital so much easier," said Tara Decola, Meyer's mom. "It's been amazing how it's grown over the years and knowing that she is able to provide comfort and care to anyone ill just gives us a lot of joy as a family."
Meyer is hoping to match the over 2,500 toys collected and delivered last year to bring joy to children who need it the most.
Contact Community Journalist Alex Ciccarone