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.
Join us at Kidlist in spreading holiday cheer throughout Chicagoland this season!
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2023 Toy and Donation Drives
Some organizations accept only new, unopened toys. Please refer to their websites for giving guidelines, especially when giving to organizations that help sick children.
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 15, 2023.
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. The Hematology/Oncology department has its own Amazon wish list as well. They’ve also resumed in-person giving. Check out the website for more details, including who to contact.
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 9th annual Toys for Tots Clinic for kids in grades 1–8 on November 26, 2023. The registration “fee” to participate is an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots. See their website for details and to sign up.
Sharing Connections accepts donations of all kinds in their Downers Grove location (5111 Chase Aveune) 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 their website for their Amazon wish list and information.
Sharing Connections accepts drop-offs now through December 11, 2023. They are open from 9:00am – 3:00pm on weekdays, and on Saturdays from 9:00am – 12:00pm.
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, and gift cards. Please note: they are not collecting toys this year. They’ve also set up wish lists for Amazon, 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). Hours vary by location, make sure to check the website before you go. The drive runs now through November 27, 2023.
Donations to the Ronald McDonald House help them carry out their mission of caring for families of children with complex medical needs. There are six 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
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 13–20, 2023. Individual locations usually provide free boxes for you to pack.
A non-profit servicing the entire Chicagoland area, Little City’s mission is to support foster care families as they work to provide loving homes for children with a variety of developmental needs. Each holiday season, Little City hosts their annual Holiday Gift Drive, where items can be purchased for specific children via their Amazon Wish List and sent directly to Little City.
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 for specific donations requests.
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 you can still check out their Items Needed section of their website to make other contributions.
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.
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.
This non-profit serves the west side of Chicago and has an Amazon and Target 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.
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.
Their 4th Annual Toy Drive benefits the Children’s Center of Cicero-Berwyn. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to Customer Service Center in center court and receive a thank you gift.
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 2023 Kidlist Winter Holiday Guide has more resources to help your family celebrate, too.