CHICAGO (CBS) — A U-Haul will soon be filled with gifts – from bicycles, tricycles, and scooters to toys.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Friday night, it is all happening thanks to an Englewood resident who is putting smiles on hundreds of kids’ faces – and easing the holiday stress for some parents.READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Winter Storm Watch On The Way
“It’s the North Pole,” said Deonte Tanner.
Stacked From floor to ceiling in just about every room of Tanner’s home are presents — lots and lots of presents.
“I can’t turn away a kid,” Tanner said. “I can’t turn a mother who’s in need.”
One thousand or so kids will get a gift Saturday at Tanner’s now-annual toy drive in Englewood – bringing smiles, reducing financial stress for parents, and changing the narrative by showing the good that the Englewood neighborhood has to offer.
“I remember being inspired, saying not only am I not going to be that person, but I’m going to show the world what can happen when you have a little bit of hope in somebody like me,” Tanner said.READ MORE: Pair Charged In Murder Of 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega Denied Bail; Accused Teen Gunman Committed Three Previous Carjackings, Prosecutors Say
Tanner started about six years ago with a few hundred bucks serving 100 families. Now, he is buying dozens of bikes with the nearly $25,000 he has raised through his organization, Servants for Hope.
“If I’ve got to call you 10 times a week to get your donation, I’m to call you 10 times a week,” he said.
The sound of a truck being opened up in a parking lot to load up bikes is not quite the sound of sleighbells. But the impact Tanner is making continues to echo through the South Side year after year.
“Just when it seems like all hope has been lost, bam! Here comes Servants for Hope, providing hope, one family at a time,” Tanner said.
The toy drive is from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 6223 S. Justine St.
Pre-registration for the toy drive has closed, but Tanner said he expects walk-ups – and no kid will be turned away,MORE NEWS: 'He Actually Skipped Like A Child, All The Way Up:' 11-Year-Old Boy Charged In November Carjacking In Mount Greenwood