A TORQUAY mother has ensured the legacy of her little boy will live on through the Love from Lenny toy drive.
Lauren Henwood faced every parent’s worst nightmare when her baby boy Lenny lost his life to cancer at 16 months old.
Each year since his passing Ms Henwood has celebrated Lenny’s birthday by providing presents to sick children in hospitals across Victoria.
“If I’m going to give Lenny’s birthday present to someone, there’s no one I’d rather give it to than a sick child in hospital, bringing a smile to their face.”
The Love from Lenny toy drive is now in its third year and runs in partnership with Koala Kids, following Ms Henwood’s personal experience with the charity.
“The first year, which was Lenny’s only birthday, was spent as inpatient at The Royal Children’s Hospital,” she said.
“It was the last day he was okay, the last day he smiled, the last day he crawled and Koala Kids bought in some presents for all of our children.”
The following year Ms Henwood felt like she had to do something to honour her boy.
“You have all this love to give and no one to give it to,” she said.
The next toy drive started with the expectation it would be small but soon after Ms Henwood found herself surrounded by 500 donated gifts.
“This year I have found that everybody who is donating has their own reasons for wanting to contribute,” she said
“There were a lot of stories that have come out about traumatic experiences, so I say it isn’t my toy drive, it’s ours.”
This year the toy drive has received the support of business, including the Torquay Pharmacy which has volunteered its store as a drop-off site for the community.
“It was really hard in the past – my whole house was full of toys around this time of year which is lovely, but I thought maybe we can make it easier for everyone rather than organising times to drop it off at my house,” she said.
Members of the public can order off websites such as Kawaii Kids in Horsham and Toy Workshop in Sorrento, both online or in-store, and receive 15 per cent off with the option for the stores to deliver the presents to Koala’s head office.
“We were wondering how we could do it and make it COVID-19 friendly,” Ms Henwood said.
To keep with the times people will also have the option to have toys delivered straight to the head office when shopping online.
“All toys must be brand new in their original packaging suited for children between 0 to 18 years old,” she said.
The toys will be delivered to hospitalised children across the state on February 20 to celebrate Lenny’s birthday.
“Once you have a child die you really start questioning the point of life and this has helped me get my bearings again,” Ms Henwood said.
“The more people who donate the more little faces we get to light up.”
Donations will be open until February 17.
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