BREMERTON — They’re more than halfway to their goal, but Zachary Darner and Beth Friedman Darner of Kidzz Helping Kidzz aren’t yet finished collecting toys to donate to children for the holidays.
Zachary, 8, started Kidzz Helping Kidzz last year with a friend, after visiting his younger brother Noah in the hospital on Christmas Day.
“It made me feel horrible and scared because my brother was in the hospital,” Zachary said.
Last year, they collected 259 toys to donate to local hospitals to give to children. This year, he plans to collect at least 1,000 toys to donate to children stuck over the holidays in Harrison Medical Center, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“I’m doing this because I feel kids should be safe and happy in the hospital,” Zachary said.
Another difference to this year’s efforts is that Zachary is being sponsored by Caring Clowns International.
“This allowed us to apply for grants that only nonprofit organizations are eligible for,” Friedman Darner said, “and they helped us to identify businesses in the community that are supporting the project by having one of Zachary’s toy collection boxes.
“The success of Kidzz Helping Kidzz is largely a result of their efforts, and we are very grateful for their support.”
Friedman Darner, Zachary’s mom, said they are at the more than halfway point now, and they have until Dec. 19 to get the remaining 500 toys needed to reach their goal. They’re accepting toys through Dec. 18.
“We have been grateful for the support and the contributions the community has made thus far,” Friedman Darner said.
She added that there have been people calling “just to thank Zachary for such a marvelous project and really wanting to honor the fact that we have an 8-year-old kid who’s trying to do such wonderful work.”
She added, “Every day we receive toy donations and phone calls from residents of Kitsap County who are very touched with Zachary’s passion to help children who are ill and not able to come home for the holidays.”
She said one person told them he called Ellen DeGeneres’ publicist to suggest Zachary appear on “The Ellen Show”; another person said that their business just purchased 83 toys for the project. When Zachary was welcomed at the WestSound Technical Skills Center to give a presentation, they greeted him with 123 toys.
“The community has truly embraced Kidzz Helping Kidzz, and we are extremely grateful for the support,” Friedman Darner said.
“We’ll take any and all toys as long as it’s new,” she said; hospitals require the toys be new. “We’re getting a wonderful array of diverse types of toys. I think it’s going to meet the needs of the kids.”
And, of course, if they surpass their goal, even better. “The hospitals can take as many toys as we give them. If we surpass our goal, we’’ll be donating all those toys to the hospitals.”
Here’s a list of drop-off locations.
Bainbridge Island: Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 911 Hildebrand Lane, No. 101.
Bremerton: Chiropractic Lifestyle Center, 991 NE Riddell Road; Dentistry for Children, 1425 NE Franklin Ave.; Haselwood Family YMCA, 2261 Homer Jones Drive; Kitsap Clinic of Natural Medicine, 1007 Scott Ave. E.; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 2500 Cherry Ave., No. 203; Sunset Styling, 2202 E. 11th St.; Tracyton Dental Center, 5011 May St.; West Hills Auto Plex, 4949 Auto Center Blvd.; West Sound Technical Skills Center, 101 National Ave. N, Bremerton.
Edmonds: Edmonds Vitamins and Herbs, 420 Fifth Ave. S., No. 101.
Kingston: Country Pet Shoppe, 11132 NE Second St.; Kingston Crossing Wellness Clinic, 8202 NE Highway 104, No. 104B; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 26001 Barber Cut Off Road NE, No. C-1; The Latitude 48 Group, 10950 NE Highway 104; Village Green Community Center, 26159 Dulay Road NE; and Village Green Retirement Community, 26150 Dulay Road NE.
Port Orchard: Dentistry for Children, 1931 Pottery Ave.; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 1880 Pottery Ave., No. 100.
Poulsbo: Blue Sky Printing, 19036 Front St. NE; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 19319 7th Ave. NE, No. 108; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 20730 Bond Road NE, No. 106; Liberty Bay Marina, 17791 Fjord Drive NE.
Silverdale: Haselwood Family YMCA, 3909 NW Randall Way; Johnsonlink Orthodontics, 3511 Bucklin Hill Road NW; Kitsap Physical Therapy and Sports Clinic, 2400 NW Myhre Road, No. 102; Newlife, 9923 Poplars Ave. NW; Silverdale Pediatrics, 9910 Levin Road NW, No. 200.
Online: Facebook.com/KidzzHelpingKidzz, or contact Beth Friedman-Darner at 360-536-2584.