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Christmas in July toy drive begins

Assemblymember Ray Walter

Assemblymember Ray Walter is kicking off his 6th Annual Christmas in July Toy Drive Monday. Gifts are given to children - from infants to teenagers - at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Walter said during the middle of the summer away from the holiday season, it is easy to forget about doing what you can to help the less fortunate.

"Especially for kids, summertime you are off from school. You're off playing with your friends, you're swimming, you're running around, playing sports and doing all sorts of fun stuff," said Walter. "These kids are stuck in the hospital in the middle of summer - the most fun time of the year. We wanted to be able to do something that definitively will brighten their day and pout a smile on their face, considering the circumstances they're in."

Walter said donations of new unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any of the Amherst libraries, his offices at 5500 Main Street Suite 216, or if large enough, can be picked up. He said each new, unwrapped toy helps entire families.

"There's lots of gratitude, a lot of appreciation knowing that people care and that they are being thought of while they are in the hospital," he said. "Sometimes it's as hard on the parents as it is on the kids. I think they appreciate to know that there are folks out there thinking of them and taking care of them like that."

Walter said he knows Western New York will not disappoint. They plan to start delivering toys to the hospital around July 25.

"We bring Santa Claus down with us. Sometimes we have some Disney princess. Once in a while Sabretooth will join us," he said. "We walk the halls and knock on the doors and deliver a toy to a kid who is having a rough go of it in the hospital."

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.