Northeast Ohio’s first snowfall was perfectly timed for Akron’s Bobby Ina to kick off his 5th annual holiday shopping spree for Akron Children’s Hospital.
Ina, managing director of Metropolis Consulting, a West Akron based government relations firm, had more than a dozen friends, colleagues and clients join him at the Fairlawn Target Friday morning to spend more than $15,000 on toys that will be given to patients hospitalized during the holiday season. Watch the Facebook Live video.
After introductory remarks, Ina handed out $500 gift cards to his Santa helpers, which included a few of the hospital’s child life specialists. They came with their own lists of toys likely to be on Santa lists this year.
Topping the lists were perennial favorites like Legos, musical toys and Barbie dolls, said child life specialist Tiffany Gray.
“Kids really like ‘fidgety’ toys and surprise toys,” said Gray. “It may look like a ball to us, but kids love those toys with a surprise inside. And, of course, ‘Frozen’ is making a huge comeback this year.”
Shopping with her, fellow child life specialist Krista Graham added a few containers of slime to her cart.
“Yes,” she said, “slime is not only allowed in the hospital but it’s one of the things that is almost always guaranteed to motivate a child to leave his room and come down to the playroom. They love Play-Doh and slime and love to make their own slime.”
Ina said his idea for the shopping spree came to him 5 years ago as a response to the negativity he was seeing all around him.
“I guess you could say the idea came from a lot of bad news in the world,” he said. “I thought we could try to do something good and make people feel good, and the most innocent amongst us are children. If we can shape their opinion on life, and their future, it leads to a better future for all of us.”
Ina also said his model for fundraising proves you don’t have to wealthy to be philanthropic and make a difference. Donations to his annual shopping spree have consistently grown.
“You just have to take the first step,” he said. “A lot of people want to donate; they just don’t know how. Just take the first step.”
Ina dedicated this year’s shopping spree to his friend and colleague Bret Wiseman, who died unexpectedly a few weeks ago.
For ways to give to Akron Children’s, go to our website.