AVON — Kennedy Brackin and her aunt, Jody Williams, spent seven hours on Friday outside Avon Middle School South collecting donated toys from the public.
"We decided we both wanted to help the community," said Brackin, a 16-year-old junior at Avon High School.
Specifically she's collecting toys for Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg. The church is hosting 117 local families on Dec. 15. They'll be served breakfast and parents will be able to choose toys from the donations to have gift-wrapped and given to their children on Christmas. Brackin, who started her own photography business last year, also will take free family portraits that day.
"We've been hanging flyers in local restaurants and putting notices in newspapers and on the Internet," Brackin said of the project.
They're still accepting donations, including all next week at Avon High School.
"There are five collection boxes in the school," Brackin said. "People can drop off toys in those boxes, and we'll take them to the church."
She admits it's been a lot of work so far. Friday's weather didn't help either. Cold wind gusts wreaked havoc on their tented setup at the entrance to Avon Middle School South.
"We've spent a lot of time and put a lot of care into this," Brackin said. "We're trying to get the word out every way possible. We didn't wait last-minute on anything. We've probably been working on this for two months now."
It started decently enough on Friday. One person dropped off three boxes of toys, which included puzzles, stuffed animals, and board games.
"We appreciate everything we've gotten because we know it's going to help a lot of kids (have a nice Christmas)," Brackin said.
"All the hard work you definitely want it to pay off. When I see those families, I want them to be happy. I want to picture them having a good Christmas."
Brackin has helped with community service projects before, but never organized one until now.
"I've learned you do your best and do what you can," she said. "You can't expect everything from people, but you know there are good people who will help."
Williams has been impressed with the initiative her niece has taken with this toy drive.
"She has such enthusiasm and a desire in her heart to do something good because she has such a good life," Williams said. "She hasn't been afraid to go up and talk to people at Connection Pointe and the high school. She's been very hard-working and intelligent for a 16-year-old."