URBANA — Families in need can have a tough time buying gifts at the holidays, but generous folks can help the Salvation Army of Champaign County make sure more local kids get a new toy.
A 29th annual toy drive that is a community service project of the Carle health care organization and WDWS/WHMS/WKIO radio will get underway Thursday and run through Dec. 12.
Carle says the toy drive benefits thousands of families in Champaign County each year by getting donations of new, unwrapped toys for children and teens through age 15 to the local Salvation Army.
Drop-off locations for toys include Carle Foundation Hospital lobby and Carle tower lobby, 611 W. Park St., U.
Other Carle facility drop-off locations:
— 602 W. University Ave., U.
— 1701 W. Curtis Road, C.
— 1802 S. Mattis Ave., C.
— 1813 W. Kirby Ave., C.
— 1818 E. Windsor Road, U.
— 1001 Heather Drive, Mahomet.
— 1540 E. Grove, Rantoul.
Toys can also be dropped off at:
— WDWS/WHMS/WKIO, 2301 S. Neil St., C.
— Health Alliance Medical Plans, inside Lincoln Square, 301 S. Vine St., U.
An all-day drive-through toy drop-off will be held Dec. 11 from 7 a.m. to 6 a.m. at the Carle facility at 1802 S. Mattis Ave., C, with Lite Rock 97.5's Mike in the Morning awarding prizes to early donors.
Some of Carle's suggestions for toy donations for young kids include riding toys for toddlers, wagons, train sets, Barbie doll sets, doll houses, doll strollers, Little Tikes kitchen sets, Easy-Bake ovens, toy trucks (larger is better) and toy cars, educational toys and play sleeping bags and tents.
Teens could use bedroom lamps, blankets, over-stuffed pillows, makeup kits, jewelry-making kits, a plush robe and slippers, jewelry boxes, digital cameras, gift cards, body products in a basket, and MP3 players and headphones.
Some of Carle's suggestions for gifts for kids of all ages: Illini clothing and gear, skateboards, scooters, radios or CD players, musical instruments, art sets, science kits and electronic hand-held games.
Carle is encouraging donors to the toy drive to tell others they participated and also spread the news by taking an "elfie" photo to share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ElfEsteem.