Slavens’ perennial toy drive continues despite COVID-19

Originally published in the Urbana Daily Citizen – December 4, 2020

The annual area toy drive organized by DeGraff’s Tyler Slaven and his sister Monica that has collected over 35,000 toys in the last five years has hit a bump in the road this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is their 6th annual toy drive, which they started back in high school in conjunction with the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), with the dream that children in the hospital on Christmas Day would always have a nice toy to wake up to, putting smiles on their faces.

So, they teamed up and took a courageous chance in uncharted waters back then as high school students and started their first toy drive by putting a few donation boxes in area stores and doing a couple of bake sales.

Over the years they have established hundreds of drop-off locations all over Ohio at retail stores, libraries, offices and grocers in communities including Urbana, Sidney, Lima, Indian Lake, Piqua, Troy, Springfield and many others.

Each year since their humble grassroots beginnings they have more than doubled their toy collections for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Last year’s record-breaking collection of 20,283 toys was the most ever donated to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The previous record was 9,200 toys set by the Slavens the year before.

That all changed this year due to COVID-19, but the Slavens don’t want to disappoint the kids in the hospital this Christmas.

This year they are accepting monetary donations instead of toys due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations will be used to buy toys for the children at Nationwide Hospital for Christmas Day.

“This year’s toy drive will look a bit different due to the guidelines and protocols that we are following to ensure the health and safety of my team, the donors, the hospital staff, and most importantly, the children,” said Tyler Slaven.

“After all of the crazy things 2020 has thrown at us, I am proud to announce that the Ohio Virtual Academy Agricultural Society will be continuing our 6th Annual Christmas Toy Drive for Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Slaven added. “In an attempt to keep everyone as safe as possible, we are encouraging that the community help the children out by making a monetary donation this year. As always, each donation will be used to purchase toys for the children in the hospital who will not be able to be home with their families for Christmas. For this year’s drive, no locations are available for toys to be dropped off. Our goal is to keep everyone safe, which requires special handling.”

All proceeds go directly toward buying new toys for the kids this year in the hospital on Christmas Day.

All monetary donations will be used to purchase rattles, plastic links, musical light up toys, crayons, coloring books, books, games, playing cards, Lego sets, bead sets, craft sets, ink kits, paint kits, drawing kits, model kits, word search, DVDs and much more.

All donations will be taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Dec. 13 for children who will not be able to be home with their families on Christmas Day.

To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit

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