This will be the 6th year that Bobby Ina works his magic at Akron Children’s Hospital during the holiday season. He doesn’t wear a red suit or have a beard, but you could definitely make the comparison.
Ina, who owns Metropolis Consulting LLC, a government relations firm based in Fairlawn, has been gathering friends and clients in local toy stores – first ToysRUs and then Target – to lead epic shopping sprees on behalf of the children treated at Akron Children’s.
Team Ina would typically gather in store on a Friday in early November with stacks of gift cards ready to go. Listening to Christmas music played on the overhead and with cups of Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate in hand, they would cruise through the aisles, filling carts with toys on Santa’s list (well actually, the wish lists of the hospital’s child life specialists). A truck was filled, and the toys would make their way to the hospital to be wrapped, labeled, and distributed by Santa on Christmas Eve to children hospitalized over the holiday.
Things will look different this year but Ina’s shopping spree will happen. In fact, it’s already underway.
Like so much of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ina wanted to make the health and safety of his friends and clients the top priority so this year’s shopping spree will take place online. His devoted group of donors – and anyone else wishing to participate – can simply log onto the Target website, find the registry of toys selected by the child life specialists, click on as many toys as they wish to purchase, and have the packages delivered directly to the Volunteer Office at the hospital.
“We know this year is different and a lot of people are going through hard times,” said Ina. “We know some people may not be able to give as much as they have in the past. But, honestly, we are appreciative of each and every donation.”
The items of the list vary from a few bucks to large, expensive toys.
This year, in keeping with the housebound pandemic times, there are lots of items high in demand for families – items like board games, puzzles, arts and craft kits and more elaborate Lego kits that will keep kids and families entertained for hours.
Toys should be purchased by Nov. 18 as they need to be “quarantined” a month before they can be wrapped, labeled and delivered.
“We are grateful for Bobby’s kindness and overwhelming generosity,” said Vicki Parisi, director of Volunteer & Visitor Services. “His efforts not only benefit our patients during the holidays but throughout the year.”
With several thousand dollars’ worth of toys already purchased by mid-October, Ina is grateful that his shopping spree keeps growing and helping kids, even during these unusual times that keep people socially distant.
“I organized this six years ago, but it’s way bigger – way, way bigger than me now,” he said. “I will go dead broke to make sure that every single child in a hospital gets a toy for Christmas; I will do everything possible to make sure this keeps going.”
How to shop for Akron Children’s
The URL for the Target gift registry is: https://www.target.com/gift-registry/gift/ach-bina-holidays
The name on registry: Akron Children’s Hospital’s Charity Registry 2020 Toys Make Us Smile Toy Drive
Address for delivery: Volunteer Services, Akron Children’s Hospital, One Perkins Square, Akron, Ohio 44308-1062
In addition to toys, consider purchasing and mailing to the same address gift cards ($10, $15, $20 or $25 value) for Amazon, Target, Giant Eagle, Acme, Meijer, Visa, gas stations, Roblox, and Bath & Body Works.
Please share your support for this program on social media using the hashtag #toysforsmiles