PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — The second annual “Toyz in da Neighborhood” event brought together Peoria councilmen, school board members, non-profit and community leaders all in one room to distribute gifts to families in Peoria.
Families packed both the Anni Jo Gordon Community Learning Center and Artists Re-envisioning Tomorrow Inc buildings Saturday morning.
Those who came out were able to get a toy, drink hot chocolate as well as get a photo op with Santa Claus.
Greg Wilson, with the Yani Collective, helped set the event up and said the need for toys in Peoria is only one example of the poverty that plagues this city.
“It’s tough to learn that you’re in poverty at such a young age and that so it was very important that we were able to provide some relief to those families,” said Wilson.
Wilson said more than 1,200 kids were able to receive Christmas gifts this year at the event.
Andre Allen, Peoria’s 4th District city councilman, also had a hand in the process and said he wanted to be able to give kids a great Christmas while also helping out the parents who may be struggling during this time of year.
“Rent, utilities, things of that nature on top of now you have to buy presents, is very hard and right now things are very expensive in our society right now,” Allen said. “So our group realizes the need and we understand how important it is to make sure that our kids feel good around this time of the holidays. But we also want to support their parents and our guardians as well too.”
In light of the event’s great response from the community, Wilson said they are already planning for next year’s toy giveaway.