Toy Drive 2018 features even easier ways to give

You’re making your holiday list, and checking it twice. Consider adding the Salvation Army Toy Drive to the top of your list.

From November 19 – December 14, you can help thousands of children in Champaign County through the Salvation Army’s Top Shop. The Shop allows eligible parents to “shop” for gifts for their children, who may not be able to provide these gifts otherwise.

The greatest need is for kids ages 9-12, an age that often gets overlooked because they’re harder to shop for than small children. If you’re out shopping for a young child, consider adding an extra item for a “tween.” Sports equipment, Illini apparel, hoodies, headphones, bath and body products, and gift cards are great options. Find more suggestions at carle.org/toydrive.

The Salvation Army of Champaign County’s Major Randall Summit said many of the children served by the program have little.

“Families facing hard times make tough choices,” he said. “Paying the rent and putting food on the table become their priority, and celebrating with gifts takes a back seat.”

“I hope we’re all fortunate enough to remember the joy of unwrapping a gift as a child. Something special picked just for you. Our goal for parents to get the chance to pass that feeling on to their children,” Summit said.

While pre-teens are harder to buy for, their younger siblings can’t be forgotten. Some popular gift ideas for young kids include riding toys, Duplo box sets, small cars and trucks or educational toys such as Leap Frog.

Developmental pediatrician Erica Wiebe, MD, said involving your children in holiday traditions – like donating toys and volunteering helps children learn about responsibility, sacrifice and empathy.

“Helping your child to understand others have needs and they can make a difference empowers them and strengthens your family,” she said. “Giving back just feels good – for all members of the family. It reduces stress and increases happiness.”

Here’s how to participate in this year’s drive.


Drop off any new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children through age 12 at the following locations, through Dec. 14:

  • Carle Foundation Hospital main lobby (inside Orchard Street) in Urbana
  • Heart & Vascular Institute main lobby in Urbana
  • Champaign on Curtis Convenient Care (Mattis Avenue and Curtis Road)
  • Urbana on Windsor Convenient Care (Windsor Road and Myra Ridge Road)
  • Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (Windsor Road and S. First Street) in Champaign
  • News-Gazette Media in downtown Champaign


New this year, donors can give online at carle.org/toydrive, or by texting CARLE to 41444.

“We know the holidays can be hectic. Online giving eliminates another shopping trip or the daunting task of picking the ‘perfect gift,’” said Dana Hagerstrom, Community Benefit Program Coordinator. “All it takes is a credit card and a few clicks on your phone, tablet or computer and your gift reaches a local child in need.”

Last year, Carle collected nearly 2,100 toys and more than $4,900 in monetary donations. With more and easier opportunities to give, they hope even more families can get involved this year.

“We all have personal reasons we choose to give back, and different ways we can offer assistance to those in need,” Hagerstrom said. “Whether giving of your time, money or talents, giving to this Toy Drive will positively impact children in the Champaign-Urbana community who might not otherwise have a gift to open – and that is a great reason to give.”