7th grader, Samuel Love, takes on role of ‘Sam’ta Claus’ to collect 10K toys for those in need including children and youth in the care of DCFS
 
DCFS to join Sam’ta to kick off 2016 toy drive
 
  Once featured on The Today Show,  Samuel Love is a 13-year-old, 7th grader at Murray Language Academy.  But when the holidays roll around, Samuel assumes the identity of Sam’ta Claus in an effort to bring holiday cheer to those less fortunate than him.  For the fifth year, Love is collecting toys for youngsters whose holidays have been impacted by some of the worse weather-related tragedies in the country. 
 
On Thursday, Nov.17th, Love will kick off his 2016 campaign to collect 10K toys at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., with a special rally in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS).  The kick-off press conference is at 11:30 a.m. and joining Love will be  DCFS Director George Sheldon.
 
“I am so very grateful to continue this effort for the fifth year,” said Love. “I am confident that with the help of people here in Illinois, we can make this holiday season a great one for a lot of kids and exceed our goal of collecting 10K toys.”
 
This holiday season, Love aka Sam’ta, is collecting toys and gift cards for the children in Lumberton and neighboring Princeville in North Carolina, towns nearly lost to Hurricane Matthew, and the related flooding earlier this year.  Located in Robeson County, Lumberton is the home to about 22,000 people and more than 2,000 families with children who were displaced as a result of flooding. Most of these families lived in
 
four of the city’s public housing developments, along with two of its Section 8 rent-assisted apartments—about 545 units housing about 1,470 people. Lumberton has among the highest rates of poverty in North Carolina.
 
In early December, Love will head to Lumberton with his father, Victor, to deliver the toys in person to ensure the children have a great Christmas.  But first, he will be collecting gift cards for older children who are in foster care through DCFS. He is asking those interested in  supporting his efforts to bring toys and gift cards to the Thompson Center between 11:30 am-1pm.
 
“DCFS is proud to partner with this young man who exemplifies a commitment to others and generosity of spirit that is an example for all the young people our system is responsible for,”
said Sheldon.  “We are proud to both support his efforts and have our young people benefit from his largess.”
 
In 2012, Love collected over 800 toys for children in the New York area impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  The following year, he collected over 1,300 toys for the kids of Lyons, CO and Little Ax, OK.  In 2014, with a goal of collecting 2,500 toys, he instead collected over 3,800 toys for the children of Vilonia and Mayflower, AR as well as for children of the Englewood community in Chicago.
 
Last year, Love set a goal of 10,000 toys, and while he fell short, he still exceeded his previous years’ goal with 7,300 toys, which he distributed in five locations—four in Illinois: Robbins, Coal City, Fairdale and the Children’s Advocate Hospital of Illinois; and Columbia, SC, which experienced historic storms and flooding last year. In total, Sam’ta has distributed over 13,000 toys to children across the country with the help of his family, sponsors, friends and supporters. 
 
Love is being joined in his efforts by a host of businesses, community and political leaders from Catholic Charities, DePaul University, Sam’s Club, Toys R Us, Studio Movie Grill, Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA), Rep. Ford, and Aldermen Roderick Sawyer (6th), David Moore (17th) and Anthony Beale (9th).