By Sharon Fountain, Chicago Crusader
What would it take to collect and distribute 20,000 toys for Christmas this year on this continent and an island 2,000 miles away? Well let’s see, first you would probably need thousands of dollars to buy the toys and gift cards. Then, you would need lots of elves or people and resources to organize, collect, pack, track, store, count, recount, transport, ship, unpack and distribute them. Next to Santa, the only other person that could make this happen is Sam Love!
For six years now, 14-year-old Sam Love has been on a mission to bring a little joy to children at Christmas time. Every year the number of children who benefit from his generosity grows. Love has collected nearly 20,000 toys and gift cards for young people in Illinois and other states since he first launched his initiative in 2012. This year his goal is to collect 20,000 toys and gift cards.
Like Santa, Love, who is affectionately known as “Sam’Ta Love,” doesn’t do it alone. Since his first drive he has had the remarkable ability to motivate other children, adults, organizations, churches and companies to share his dream and make it happen.
The recent devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been a source of concern for Love, who last year delivered toys and gift cards to kids in two towns in North Carolina nearly desolated by Hurricane Matthew.
This year his wish is to ensure the kids in Houston and Puerto Rico have a great Christmas too. And of course, he will be giving toys to Chicago’s economically challenged communities, as well.
Over the next few days leading up to Dec. 22, 2017, he will be doing what he does best––collecting toys and gift cards. Love will be holding toy drives and hosting events, some with sponsors and partners to ask everyone to give.
Studio Movie Grill in Chicago, which is one of Love’s sponsors, is hosting promotional movie showings of the Spike Lee movie, “School Daze,” on Dec. 3, 4 and 5, 2017, along with its toy drive.
Sam’Ta Love will also be collecting from over 20 Chicago Public Schools, as well as several schools will see free movies in exchange for their toy and gift card donations. These are just a few of the upcoming events planned to provide the public with the opportunity to give.
There are four official sites accepting donations for Sam’Ta’s Christmas Toy Drive in Chicago. Bring new unwrapped toys for children, toddler age to 8th grade students, for both boys and girls, or $25 gift cards for older teens to:
- Captain’s Hard Time Dining & Josephine’s Cooking, 436 E. 79th Street;
- Studio Grill Movie, 210 W. 87th Street;
- Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Street;
- Plump Chicago Upscale Resale and Floral Boutique, 1834 W. 95th Street; and
- NBC Tower Lobby, 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr.
Sponsors joining Love in his efforts include the Black McDonald’s Operators Association of Chicago and Northwest Indiana (BMOA), NBC5, Studio Movie Grill, Villa Clothes, the Chicago Crusader Newspaper, Christmas in the Ward, 6th Ward Alderman Rod Sawyer, Seaway, A Division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and WVON.