Christmas toy supply drive for local homeless children

Toy drive underway for area children

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A tradition of spreading holiday cheer is continuing thanks to a local moving company and two new partners.

Christmas is only 39 days away and three companies supporting a local homeless shelter want to be ready. Toy distribution is set for a few days before Christmas.

The push is on now to collect as many new toys and household items as possible.

Generosity from strangers put happy faces on hundreds of children over the years. Gifts boost spirits, build confidence and instill motivation.

Professional Moving & Storage owner, Andre Neita says,"I grew up in a similar situation where I didn’t have too much and again I do it for the kids' smiles."

Neita’s toy drive is in its 10th year and for the past four or so he has focused on helping homeless children at Home Again Shelter in particular.

Every toy received will end up in the hands of a homeless child. Every household item donated will benefit homeless families as they prepare to move back into their own homes.

NBC12 asked 10-year-old Lia what she’s hoping for Christmas. Lia says, “A computer, tablet, a bed to sleep in. My own room.”

Neita’s work expanded to a toy-supply drive and this year he is welcoming help from Optima Health.

Director of Community Outreach and Development at Optima Health Priscilla Wright says, “We are about the community and being a partner with the community. We just want to make sure all the kids in the community in the City of Richmond are able to enjoy their holidays. So we are going to chip in as much as we can.”

Professional Kickboxer Francois Ambang is all in. He says because of the way he grew up, he’s thankful to be in a position to help homeless children.

Ambang is offering a free training session to those who donate at his Mechanicsville business, Bang Bang Kickboxing.

Ambang says, “I grew up in Central Africa in Cameroon. It wasn’t easy for us at Christmas sometimes we don’t have shoes. We don’t have food. It was very difficult. I see a lot of kids who never had anything.”

Neita adds, “Having the Hanover-Mechanicsville location we feel like we can collect more toys and people don’t have to come all the way to the South Side to drop the toys off to us.”

Potential beneficiaries of generosity are expressing gratitude in advance for Andre Neita and his toy supply drive.

Home Again Program Manager JoLinda Underwood says, “His passion to help the families at Home Again has been so great. He promotes the needs of the families that are in the shelter.”

Lia’s father, Tracey Wallace, is also grateful for the help. He says, "I want to reward her for her good scholarship and honor roll, scholar roll. You want to reward but you can’t. That’s what’s stressful.”

The drive is accepting new, unwrapped toys for girls and boys, bikes, blankets, arts and crafts, electronics, sheets, diapers, towels, pots, pans and other household items.

Items can be dropped off Professional Moving and Storage in Richmond or Bang Bang Kickboxing in Mechanicsville.

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