PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — For the 26th year, a local Santa is preparing to make Christmas special for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
After a message at church about giving, Bill Turney was inspired to give out football cards to children in the hospital in Peoria. Since then, Turney’s desire to give has taken on a life of its own.
“It went from that to a little red wagon, to a little minivan, and now we fill a 25-foot U-Haul truck from top to bottom of toys,” Turney said.
For more than 2 decades, Turney has delivered thousands of dollars worth of toys to patients at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, earning him the name many call him by, “Santa Bill”.
“To me, these kids are perfect. I know they’re sick and if I can go in there and make them smile a little bit, then we did the job that we had to do,” Turney said.
Santa Bill and his helpers are getting ready for the Christmas tradition for the 26th time.
During this month and December, you can purchase merchandise, donate online, drop off toys, or buy raffle tickets for items like signed bears memorabilia. All the proceeds will help Santa Bill put toys under the tree for the children.
“It’s amazing, the community support that I get. I’ve gotten quite a following after all these years, and I don’t have to worry about anything,” Turney said.
Each year, Turney wants to not only provide toys to children battling illness, but also hope.
“It’s nothing for me to drop down on my knees and pray for these kids right there in the room because I want them well, I want them home with their families, I want them home for Christmas, but some of them can’t be home with their families for Christmas. So we do what we have to do and make every one of them smile,” Turney said.