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Cincinnati girl, 14, brings Christmas joy to Children’s patients with toy drive

‘You’re making kids happy, and that’s the best feeling in the world.’
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:10 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Cincinnati teen is helping others in need this Christmas, and it’s not the first time.

Ava McErlane, 14, has been collecting toys and money for kids during the holidays since she was 11. That was three years ago after she herself was in the hospital for the holidays.

McErlane collected 200 toys for patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital during the 2018 holiday season. She collected 1,200 toys—and $1,400—in 2019.

Despite the pandemic, she was able to raise enough money in 2020 to buy dozens of gift bundles for kids.

“This year I want to help the families that have kids there too,” McErlane said. “So, like, it’s not just them this year either, because the families also need to have a good Christmas as well.”

Ronald McDonald House will benefit from Ava’s “Raise to Praise’” this year.

When McErlane was 9-years-old she had to stay in the hospital for a week after having emergency surgery. She still remembers how important it was to get a toy to distract her from the situation.

“They [the hospital staff] did this BINGO thing there and I actually won and I got a toy from it,” McErlane remembered. “And it just made me really happy so I wanted to make more people happy too.”

McErlane has an Amazon wish list and a GoFundMe page set up for donations. In only a week, she has already collected 123 toys and $870.

Because sometimes the people staying at the Ronald McDonald House are unprepared for a long stay, McErlane is also collecting items like chargers and soap.

Each day, more and more gifts get delivered to the front porch, and McErlane can’t stop thinking about the kids and families that will be blessed by these packages.

“The feeling is just so amazing, and also you’re helping a kid that doesn’t get out for Christmas like you,” McErlane continued. “And the fact that you can at least give them a little bit of the Christmas joy that you have just is a really great feeling.”

The gifts will be delivered before Christmas so anyone staying at the Ronald McDonald House will receive a gift or toy in time for Christmas.

“You’re making kids happy, and that’s the best feeling in the world,” said McErlane.

You can donate gifts or money until December 13th so McErlane has enough time to get the toys to the Ronald McDonald House in time for the holidays.

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