STEVENSVILLE - For the second year in a row a Christmas toy drive has been organized in memory of a young man who loved children and died at a very early age.
The event is called the second annual Schwinky Toy Drive and is being organized by the parents, brother, and sister-in-law of Michael Schwink, a firefighter and EMT who died at the age of 23 after a long illness.
"Michael had an incredible love for children and also had a special fondness for Christmas. He loved playing Santa and watching the children's' faces light up and listening to them laugh," said his mother Pat Schwink. "So, what better way to honor his memory than a toy drive for special children?"
That's why, for the second consecutive Christmas, the family is holding the toy drive to bring "Christmas joy to children who must spend the holidays in a hospital," Mrs. Schwink said.
Last year, the family delivered 114 boxes of toys to the DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
A donation of toys will be made by the family to the Kennedy Krieger Hospital and The Pact Unit, a daycare center for young children on medical care, in Baltimore. The family is seeking new toys for children six weeks of age to 21 years of age. Among the kinds of toys collected in last year's initial drive were puzzles, games, musical toys for infants, movies, riding toys, kitchen sets, kids' tool benches, video games, board games, tea sets, and more.
The collecting already has begun and will continue until Dec. 5, after which everything will be gathered up and taken to Baltimore for distribution by family members, Pat said. A number of collection boxes have been set up around the area, just like last year. They are located at the Stepping Stones Child Care Center, the Island Ink Tattoo Shop in Stevensville, the Island Athletic Club at Kent Narrows, the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office in Centreville, the Dollar General store in Stevensville, and Ram's Head Shore House in Stevensville.
Pat said the family also si getting assistance from the Kent Island Cruisers at two of their upcoming events. Its annual Halloween Car Show will be held on the parking lot of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday, Oct. 27, and a collection box will be there. One will also be at the car show at the AutoZone at Thompson Creek Mall on Nov. 10.
Michael Schwink lived on Kent Island and was a 2003 graduate of Kent Island High School. He was an EMT with United Communities Volunteer Fire Department who wanted to becom a professional firefighter. His brother, Chris, is a deputy with the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office.
He died in 2009 at the age of 23 after an 18-month battle with cancer and his family organized the toy drive to help keep his memory alive.
For information on the second annual Schwinky Toy Drive, contact the Schwink family at 410-643-3926.