Mother hosts toy drive for pediatric cancer: ‘It’s such a lovely way to honor our boy’

Local mother honors her late son with toy donation drive

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - It’s a special time of year for Tanya Kennedy Gill—a season of anniversaries, both mournful and uplifting.

On Feb. 18, 2013, her son, Christian, was born. The next year was the only birthday she and her husband would have with him. He’s spent every birthday since then, she says, in heaven.

Christian had his first tumor removed when he was just two months old. He would die seventeen months later.

For years, Kennedy Gill says she didn’t have the motivation to do anything. Then in 2016, around the time of Christian’s birthday, Kennedy Gill was shocked to discover items stolen from her late son’s gravesite.

In the face of Kennedy Gill’s continued grief, the community responded, so plentifully that she was able to use what she received to buy toys she then donated to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Christian’s memory.

That was the jumping-off point for her annual toy drive.

Now every year, Kennedy Gill gathers donations of Legos, wagons and cars, art supplies, educational tools, instruments, movies, game systems—and even basic items like toiletries, socks, and sleepers—and donates them to Shriner’s Hospital, The Dragonfly Foundation and Cincinnati Children’s.

The goal is to bring some measure of cheer to those kids who are, like her son did seven years ago, battling pediatric cancer.

You can contribute to the GoFundMe or drop off items at 3649 Paxton Avenue in Oakley, just two doors down from Hyde Park Fine Meats.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Kennedy Gill said surveying the boxes of toys piled around her home. “I mean, it’s such a lovely way to honor our boy.”

The wagons, art supplies, legos, and musical instruments hold a special place in Kennedy Gill’s heart.

“Those were some of the things he enjoyed so much, and the things most beneficial to him,” she said. “I think Christian would be thrilled with what we’re doing.”

Kennedy Gill says gift cards for gas, restaurants, and groceries are also needed.

“This drive is our way, during one of the most difficult times of the year, to lean toward happiness,” Kennedy Gill said.

In 2019, she explains, her drive donated a total of $15,000 worth of toys, gift cards and general funds towards research for pediatric cancer.

Nearing the seventh anniversary of her son’s birth—in the fourth year of the toy drive that honors him—she thinks they can even better in 2020.

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