'Smiling While Sending Hope' kicks off 7th annual toy drive for kids with chronic illnesses

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YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A North Carolina girl with chronic illnesses kicked off the toy drive she founded years ago.

Katie Haynes is a pretty incredible young woman. Seven years ago she set up drop boxes at businesses in Youngsville. That was the start of what is now called the Smiling While Sending Hope Toy Drive.

The toys collected are donated to kids and young adults dealing with chronic illnesses.

"I wanted to make a difference and make and impact on not only their lives but their families and siblings as well," Haynes said.

WATCH: Pizzeria, young girl team up to 'send smiles' to first responders during coronavirus pandemic
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Katie Haynes and Bella Italia Pizzeria in Wake Forest are working together to help first responders.

Alannah Cain, 11, was born with a birth defect. She has spend many holidays in the hospital. One of those holidays she received a gift from Haynes' toy drive.

"I'm going through a lot right now because of my feeding tube, and I'm having to go back and forth to the hospital and when I got that gift it made me like really happy," Cain said.

Again this year Haynes is partnered with Mary and Co. Gifts in downtown Youngsville.

"It took nothing to put a bin in the front door and we had a lot of customers coming in and putting things in the bin," said Mary Allen of Mary and Co. Gifts.

Last year, Haynes collected so many toys just in time for the holidays she filled a U-Haul truck. And this year, she's hoping to collect even more.

"Stuff like this helps bring a smile to their face and helps them take their mind off something and have that support system they know they can rely on," Haynes said.

If you would like to donate in person, visit these locations:

  • Mary Co & Gifts (Youngsville)
  • Linda Craft & Team, Realtors (Raleigh)
  • Bella Italia Pizzeria (Wake Forest)
  • Kindred Oaks Dentistry (Youngsville)
  • Page 158 Books (Wake Forest)
  • Creedmoor Drug Co (Creedmoor)
  • Tumble Gym locations:
  • Factory in Wake Forest
  • Falls River in Raleigh
  • Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh
  • Strickland Road in Raleigh
  • Southern Village in Chapel Hill

If you would like to donate virtually, visit the Amazon wish list at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/RQJJL44S2YSO?fbclid=IwAR0P6TJQvQc6u4FdGW3aaSWN-iPOL3Id8_xM30M_qQPs-5mMlPFUDmfDNW4 or the GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/f/6th-annual-2020-virtual-toy-drive?fbclid=IwAR2o4EaEjC0EgALYAhyko7-CngjYxj4dsj3_p_0CQyX5f4UOdO617i5bxS4
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