DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – In an attempt to restore a sense of normalcy for children affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes, several businesses and organizations are teaming up to collect new toys.

“I think children are the most innocent victims in this thing,” said Carly Barrett, the co-owner of Heart Mercantile.

Dayton Inspires director Matthew Sliver added, “I think they’re being a little forgotten in this whole tornado effort.”

Sliver explained he and volunteer groups were inspired to start a toy drive when they were helping with cleanup efforts in several devastated neighborhoods.

“I think about a kid, maybe in a shelter, that doesn’t have anything. And maybe that could just be a sense of comfort,” he said.

Dayton Inspires initially posted a call for toy donations on its social media accounts and enlisted help from Hopeland Church, Heart Mercantile and the Idea Collective. 

Starting Monday, several locations began accepting toys, games and coloring books. The drive will continue through the end of the week. The groups plan to partner with several fire departments to distribute the donations and ice cream to children in devastated neighborhoods early next week.

Sliver said he’s been humbled by the Miami Valley’s willingness to give following the tornado outbreak. Dayton Inspires organized an early effort to clean-up debris, which attracted more than 3,300 volunteers across the region.

Within the first few days of the toy drive, Barrett said she’s seeing similar generosity at Heart Mercantile Downtown Dayton’s Oregon District. She hopes it reassures children their community cares about them.

“Maybe they can grow up and feel like they want to give back to their community as well,” Barrett said.


  • Catapult Creative: Lobby of 10 N Ludlow St, Dayton, OH 45402; 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
  • Heart Mercantile: 438 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402; 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Sun.-Sat.
  • Hopeland Church: 6025 Miller Ln, Dayton, OH 45414; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Click here to learn more about Dayton Inspires.

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