The spirit of holiday cheer encourages us towards generosity, and toy drives are a great way to help kids get into the giving. Involving kids can start with explaining the need and how the organization you’re supporting is helping to address it. Toy drives specifically allow kids to think about the children the gifts are for, imagining what toys they might enjoy and helping to build empathy. But even more importantly, they show the child receiving the gift that they are loved and remembered. So join us at Kidlist in spreading holiday cheer throughout Chicagoland!
2022 Holiday Toy Drives and Places to Donate in the West Suburbs
Some organizations accept only new, unopened toys. Please refer to their websites for giving guidelines, especially when giving to organizations that help sick children.
Veterans Park District Annual Food and Toy Drive
This annual fundraiser will nonperishable canned food (no glass) and new, unopened toys to distribute to families in need. There are two drop-off sites: Grant Park Recreation Center in Northlake and the George A. Leoni Complex in Melrose Park. Drop-off runs from November 1 to December 10, 2022,
Lurie Children’s Hospital
Lurie Children’s Hospital accepts donations through Amazon, and their hospital teams have put together wish lists of items that are truly needed. See the current wish list on Amazon! They’ve also resumed in-person giving. Check out the website for more details, including who to contact.
Marine Toys for Tots
The Toys for Tots toy drive has hundreds of drop-off locations listed for DuPage County here and Cook County here. With so many drop-off locations nearby, it’s very easy to donate to this charity. Toys for Tots collects new and unwrapped toys, as well as donations to purchase toys.
Another way to support Toys for Tots? Breakaway Basketball is hosting its 7th annual Toys for Tots Clinic for kids in grades 1–8 on November 27, 2022. See the website for details and to sign up.
Sharing Connections accepts donations of all kinds in their Downers Grove location and provides assistance to over 1,000 local DuPage County children. New toys, clothing, board games, stuffed animals, and gift certificates are greatly appreciated. See the current wish list and information here.
Sharing Connections accepts drop-offs now through December 12, 2022. They are open from 9:00am – 3:00pm on weekdays, and on Saturdays from 9:00am – 12:00pm.
People’s Resource Center
201 S. Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
104 Chestnut Avenue
Westmont, IL 60559
Through People’s Resource Center’s annual Share the Spirit program, families will drive through the DuPage County Fairgrounds to pick up their gifts. PRC is collecting new books, games, 12″ or smaller stuffed animals, and new-with-tags blankets. They’ve also set up wish lists for Amazon, MOORE Toys & Gadgets, Target, and Walmart so you can shop and have gifts sent to them directly. See their website for more information.
Drop-off at the Wheaton location (201 S. Naperville Road) or the Westmont location (104 Chestnut Avenue) Mondays and Fridays from 8am – 4pm or Tuesdays–Thursdays from 1pm – 4:30pm. The drive runs now through November 28, 2022.
Fill a Heart 4 Kids
Fill a Heart 4 Kids is a nonprofit serving kids who are homeless, at-risk, or living in foster institutions. They aim to help these children achieve brighter futures through “educational support, necessities and positive experiences to help their hearts heal and restore their dignity.” For the 2022 holiday season, they are collecting food, toiletries, necessities, and gifts at their storefront (270 Market Square, Lake Forest, IL 60045). See their website for more information on donations. Donations can be dropped off Mondays from 10am – 5pm, Tuesdays from 10am – 2pm, and Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10am – 5pm.
Your family can also volunteer together to help fill care packages, or to create stockings for kids through Project Elf 4 Kids. Find times and sign up here. You’ll cover the cost of the package contents, then come to the storefront to help put everything together. Fill a Heart 4 Kids will also be setting up giving trees throughout the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff area; check out their website for more details as the season comes closer, as well as for information on events throughout the year.
Ronald McDonald House
Donations to the Ronald McDonald House help them carry out their mission of caring for families of children with complex medical needs. The wishlist can be found here. There are five houses in the Chicagoland area, and they all have linked their Amazon wishlists to request donations as well:
- Ronald McDonald House near Advocate Children’s Hospital
- Ronald McDonald Family Room in Edward Hospital
- Ronald McDonald House near Loyola University Medical Center
- Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s
- Ronald McDonald House near Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital
- Ronald McDonald House near UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital
Operation Christmas Child
This faith-based organization encourages families to pack a shoebox with special gifts for a child, which are given as part of a larger program hosted in countries around the world. Visit the website for tips on how to pack a shoebox and where to drop it off. National collection week runs November 14–21, 2022. Individual locations usually provide free boxes for you to pack.
Toy Box Connection Children’s Charity
This not-for-profit agency serves as connection between families and businesses who have new toys and books to donate and the children that need them most. They do accept used video games. They are in need of many items this holiday season. This local charity donates to the southside of Chicago neighborhoods. Please see the wish list here.
Big Hearts of Fox Valley
This organization serves St. Charles and portions of Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, West Chicago, South Elgin, Campton Hills, and unincorporated Kane County. Big Hearts of Fox Valley NFP is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to brightening the lives of children whose families are experiencing a financial hardship. Their individual wish lists are all spoken for, but they were still in need of certain items; check out the Other Ways to Help section on this page.
This local nonprofit begins collecting toys the weekend of Thanksgiving at collection boxes in the lobbies of select local fire stations, police stations, and businesses. Beginning in early December, they distribute the toys to families in need. Check back at their website for this year’s list of locations closer to Thanksgiving.
Lombard Park District
Bring unused, unwrapped toys to Lilacia Park every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December from 6:00-8:00 pm during their Holiday Lights event. They are accepting toy donations and your kids can enjoy visits with Santa and complimentary hot cocoa and cookies.
The Healing Corner
This non-profit serves the west side of Chicago and has an Amazon wish list for gifts and needs, such as pajamas, underwear, and t-shirts for kids. The list also includes notes so you know where your donation or gift is going.
Sean’s Party Train
A local mother and her son started this Facebook group, based in Villa Park, to collect new or gently used toys for kids 1-11 years old as well as older kids with special needs. They are in need of games, puzzles and toys. Please note that this is a private Facebook group, but you can request to join.
Other toy drives
Check back as the season continues for more opportunities, and please let us know if you’re aware of any other local toy drives not listed here.
If you’re interested in more opportunities to volunteer and give back this holiday season, check out our article on volunteer opportunities with families! Our 2022 Kidlist Winter Holiday Guide has more resources to help your family celebrate, too.
Toy Express Children’s Charity
Thank you Jami! Great addition to this list!
There is also a link to the Amazon wish list page for the Pediatric ICU at Lurie Children’s run by a fellow PICU nurse. Items on this list go directly to the Pediatric ICU.
How can I be able to apply to receive gifts for my kids can you please provide me information thank you my husband is not working waiting for unemployment’s approval his dad just died in October so this year it has been hard thank you
I’m so sorry to hear that, Mara. We encourage you to contact the organizations listed above. If you click on the organization name, it will take you to their websites with more information. They can either help you or direct you to resources that can.