Greene-Hills fourth grader Amelia Daliga was 5 years old when decided she wanted to do something for the children that must spend the holidays in the hospital.
From there, Amelia’s Toy Drive was born.
Five years later, Amelia still collects toys from all over the state. The 2018 donations were delivered to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, on Friday, Dec. 21, and Amelia said she had collected 1,564 toys.
“I like helping others and I like doing kind deeds,” said Amelia. “It makes me feel great.”
Having spent time at CCMC due to her younger brother’s medical condition, Amelia asked her parents if the children receiving treatment at CCMC would be able to go home for the holidays.
“We tried to explain it to her the best that we could that unfortunately not all of the kids are so fortunate. Some of them had to spend the holidays at the hospital, and her response to that was, ‘I wish I could do something special for those kids’,” said Justyna Daliga, Amelia’s mother.
That first year, Justyna Daliga used social media to let friends and family know what Amelia wanted to do.
“We were hoping to bring five toys to the hospital that first year,” said Justyna. “We ended up bringing over 450, and then she just kept going.”
Amelia is able to donate so many toys because of the support of multiple communities, businesses, and individuals, said Justyna.
This year the Daliga family was able to set up twelve donation collection boxes throughout the state, located at Greene-Hills School in Bristol, Outback Steakhouse in Southington, Gina Bianca Hair Salon in Southington, Southington Fire Department Engine Company 1, the LiveWell Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Southington, Dorota’s Hair Salon in Plainville, Bolo Bakery and Cafe in Plainville, Dr. Renee Kurtz’s office in Cheshire, Berkshire Bank in Newington, Polish Language School in New Britain, Jimmy’s of Watertown, and Horacio Cafe in Watertown.
According to Justyna, Outback Steakhouse has had a donation box for several years as has Gina Bianca Hair. This year, owner of the salon, Gina, created a GoFundMe page in honor of Amelia’s Toy Drive, and said she would match up to $1,000 donated. Justyna said Gina ordered over $950 worth of toys to donate.
To learn more about Amelia’s Toy Drive, visit, www.facebook.com/AmeliasToyDrive. Donation drop off locations are posted on the page, and donation drop offs begin in mid Nov.
“She’s overall a great, great kid, so to see that she thought of so many others and wants to help others, we’re just super proud,” said Justyna Daliga. “Even though it’s her toy drive, she can’t do any of this without everyone’s help. We’re just so grateful that everyone’s so eager to help and have been for years now, continuing to support her in her efforts because without everyone’s donations, her as one person, she could only do so much.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.