RICHMOND, R.I. (WPRI) — While many kids get ready to open their gifts on Christmas morning, a teenager from Richmond is hoping to give to those who would otherwise go without this year.
Matthew Thayer is a junior at Chariho High School. The 17-year-old lives with Down Syndrome, but he doesn’t let it define him. When his parents, Tim and Ann, asked what he wanted for Christmas last year, he said “a toy drive.” His parents got to work.
“We didn’t even have anyone to donate them to at that point,” Tim Thayer said. “We said we will get what we can, and find someplace to give them.”
The couple connected with the owners of Higher Grounds Coffee Shop in Richmond. Together, the group posted on Facebook about their makeshift toy drive. Within four hours, a toy box inside the coffee shop was filled. Within three weeks, Matthew’s wish generated 464 toys to go to clients at the Rhode Island Center Assisting Those In Need, or RICAN.
“You hear so many negative things out there,” Catherine Fox, RICAN’s Board President said. “But I have to tell you, this is a story about a community rallying around Matthew to make his wish come true.”
Matthew’s wish lives on this year. His father says the goal is to collect 1,000 toys for RICAN, which will go to 230 kids serviced at the center.
All toys collected will be transported during a parade on Sunday, Dec. 10. Matthew will once again lead the parade of local police, ambulance and fire vehicles as they deliver donated toys to Santa’s Workshop at RICAN in Carolina. The public is invited to come to RICAN as the parade of toys arrives at 3 p.m.
On Saturday, off-duty police officers from the Richmond Police Department will be volunteering their time at the Ocean State Job Lot in Wyoming to collect donations of new toys and gifts for children in need through Matthew’s Wish. You can stop by the Ocean State Job Lot between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to make a donation.