FAIRLAWN — It was a shopping trip unlike others.
About a dozen community members came together at a local Target to buy about $17,000 dollars worth of toys for kids at Akron Children’s Hospital.
"We created this toy drive about four years ago," said Bobby Ina, managing director Metropolis Consulting LLC. "It’s just flourished into something really big."
Ina has built relationships with local city and state leaders through his work in government affairs. He’s been collecting the donations for about two months. On Friday, it all came together in one shopping trip.
"It's awesome to know that because of this event every child at Akron Children's Hospital will get a toy for the holiday season."
Hospital representatives said between 200-300 kids spend the holidays at the hospital. The event means each child will get a special surprise on Christmas.
"If we’re able to put some smiles on faces, that’s what it’s all about," said Ina.
Tiffany Gray, a child specialist at Akron Children's Hospital, was among those who spent some time shopping at the Fairlawn Target beginning at 8 a.m. IF you as Gray, it was an task. Withing minutes, Gray was able to fill up two shopping carts with gifts.
"We use play as a medium to get kids to understand what’s going on with them in the hospital and also when kids playing it’s proven that they feel better faster," said Gray.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and newly-elected Secretary of State Frank LaRose were also among the volunteer shoppers to support Ina's efforts. But for all involved, it was a welcomed break from the politics.
"It feel like a kid again," said Ina. "Being that last week was the elections, it’s good to feel like a kid again."
The event has grown each year with the number of donations climbing.
"Honestly, it’s extremely overwhelming."
Ina said he plans to continue the event, with hopes of one day possibly celebrating its 25th anniversary.