While working at the ThinkToys! store in the Mayfair Mall a couple years ago, Jean Gama would see parents come in from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin across the street, looking for toys to raise their child's spirits during their stay.
While the hospital sees plenty of toy drives in the winter, it soon became apparent to Gama that the children could still use a boost in spirit at other times of the year. It's at this point that she decided to start a toy drive for Valentine's Day.
That tradition has followed to their new Whitefish Bay store at 308 E Silver Spring Dr., which is collecting toys through Feb. 13 for sick and injured children at Children's Hospital. Instead of collecting used toys, the business is asking customers to buy items from their store – even if it's a $5 stuffed animal – and toss them in their donation bin.
"Right now, there are a lot of great toy drives for the kids on Christmas, but why not start a new tradition," Gama said. "People in Whitefish Bay can contribute to Children's Hospital right in their own neighborhood. Whatever we as a community can give them to take their mind off of their illness is such an easy thing for us to do together as a team."
During the first several weeks of the toy drive, Gama said young children have come into the store and donated toys. One kid bought five items and dropped two of them in the donation bucket, she said.
"I think these kinds of things speak volumes about the quality of the neighborhood," she said.