MERRIONETTE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of life, but one family is determined not to let it change their ability to give back.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported Thursday night, the show will go on for the Kevin Dowling Toy Drive.
It might look like Santa’s workshop, which wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Christmas at the McKeever family home is nearly a year-round affair.
And just like the Santa on his lawn, Jim McKeever makes a special December delivery every year.
“We would go to the hospital and deliver toys to any kid that’s in the hospital at Christmas,” he said.
It’s been two decades since his family spent their own sleepless nights at the hospital, waiting for Jim’s teenage brother-in-law Kevin Dowling to get better.
“I remember the days when he had a liver transplant and everyone was up there and hoping for, you know, a miracle,” Jim said.
Kevin stayed at the hospital until he passed away weeks later.
“We want Kevin to be remembered,” Jim said.
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So the Kevin Dowling Toy Drive was born on the South Side of Chicago. It’s an affair usually packed with people from all over the city.
“We usually get together with 600, 700 people,” Jim said.
But with 2020 they didn’t know what to do.
Patrick McKeever, Jim’s son, ultimately came up with the solution to make it a drop-off affair with drop boxes across the city and a drive by event at 115 Bourbon Street instead. It keeps everyone socially distanced while still keeping kids in the hospital happy.
“When these kids get toys it’s awesome. It’s a good feeling,” said Jim. “If they’re there we try to bring something in. It just lights up their faces and gives them a little joy for a little bit.”
The drive by toy drive is Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the 115 Bourbon Street entertainment complex in Merrionette Park. It will be hard to miss from the street. All you need to bring is a gift or a donation to drop off.
Donation and Toy Drive Locations:
- Toy Drive: 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park (Where the toy drive is usually hosted) on Saturday Dec. 5th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
3435 W. 111th St., Chicago
10350 S. Cicero Ave., Oak Lawn
9533 W. 143rd St., Orland Park
Fat Tommy’s: 3031 W. 111th St., Chicago
Swanson’s Deli: 2414 W. 103rd St., Chicago
Billy Boy’s: 6400 W. 95th St., Chicago Ridge
Classmate Ltd: 3625 W. 95th St., Evergreen Park
Monetary donations payable to the Kevin Dowling Scholarship Fund may also be mailed to P.O. Box 702, Oak Lawn, IL 60454. For more information about the Kevin Dowling Christmas Is For Kids Toy Driver, please email Jim McKeever at firstname.lastname@example.org