PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- As part of an annual mission to spread cheer, a Chicago woman has bought toys for sick children with thousands of dollars she saved throughout the year.
On Tuesday, Jessie Tendayi, of the South Shore neighborhood, distributed those gifts during a grand toy giveaway for pediatric patients at Advocate Children's Hospital.
In the last year, Tendayi bought more than 3,000 items which filled her home. There were so many bags of toys that she rented a box truck - a delivery process that rivals Santa Claus.
For nine years, Tendayi has done the gift giveaway - all on her salary as a cafeteria worker at Advocate Trinity Hospital on 93rd Street.
"You don't have to wait until you get rich to help others," she said.
Tendayi said she worked lots of overtime to earn the $5,000 she spends each year on toys.
This year, Toys R Us kicked in an additional $5,000.
She said she just wants to bring some joy to children who might be suffering during the holidays.
"I see their eyes like, 'wow!' When they say wow you feel like you've given hope to a child," Tendayi said.
And it gives parents hope.
Mom Terrie Erickson was moved to tears. Her son Declan is in the hospital for the next month undergoing treatment for leukemia. She hasn't had time to go Christmas shopping.
"This is huge. This is huge. This means a lot for my family," Erickson said.
Only half of the toys Tendayi collected made it to the hospital on Tuesday. She wants to send the other half to children in Puerto Rico.
As for the toys that didn't get claimed on Tuesday, the hospital will keep them and give them to patients throughout the year.
Chicago woman buys hundreds of toys for sick kids at children's hospital