Scripture assures us it is a child that shall lead them. And now nine-year-old Samuel Love stands as a surefire testament to that.
Equally moved by both the levels of devastation and the acts of benevolence brought on in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the third-grade Chicagoan is spending his time leading up to the holidays spearheading a local toy drive to benefit New York children affected by the storm.
As part of his campaign, the aptly named youngster is asking the public to donate and drop off new, unwrapped toys throughout the week either at his school or at the locally famed eatery Josephine’s Cooking, a soul-food restaurant owned and operated by his grandmother. He also hosted a party at the South Side hotspot where admission is $10 or the presentation of a gift.
All guests were treated to a free buffet lunch and there was also a Santa on hand to take photos with children at a cost of $10. All proceeds were used to purchase even more new toys, which will be shipped and distributed at either a military base or a NYC children’s charity. Overall, Love has set a goal of collecting as many as $3,000 worth of toys to distribute throughout the city.
“Christmas is a time of giving and sharing,” Love reflected. “Not many kids my age think about that, but I do, and that’s why I want to make sure kids in New York have a good Christmas. I started thinking about how those kids might not get any gifts this year because their parents can’t afford it.”
“I am so proud of my son for the sacrifice he is making for those who are less fortunate,” Victor Love said of his son. “This is his first time organizing a fundraiser and with God’s help, I know it will turn out well,” he said, adding that his son also plans to volunteer in feeding the local homeless and unfortunate on Christmas Day.
Some six weeks after Sandy battered the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Shore, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently estimated that as many as 40,000 local residents still remain homeless based on the wreckage it bore. With many of its victims already rating among the city’s most vulnerable, its effects have left countless numbers of them in even more dire straits, at times separating families from families and parents from children— all in the name of being able to keep a roof, albeit temporary, over their heads.
Still others struggle nearly as immensely with the equally daunting task of finding an affordable place to live, a place to work and a new school and child care for their children. Some families, totally committed to the peace-of-mind of bred by being together no matter what, have chosen to brave it by sleeping in their vehicles or even gutted out, virtually powerless homes.
The small Jersey town of Little Ferry, for example, was rendered more than 80 percent underwater and as many as 24 other states, from Florida to Maine, Michigan to Wisconsin, residents were forced to contend with and overcome catastrophes ranging from flooded tunnels to downed subway lines to power outages that spanned entire regions.
In the end, at least 253 people died at the hands of Sandy and preliminary estimates regarding monetary damages wrought by it rises to as much as $100 billion, easily making Sandy the second most costly Atlantic hurricane in history behind only Katrina.
Clearly, it all makes for a traumatizing and disheartening experience, one hopefully made just a bit softer when one encounters a soul seemingly as pure as young Samuel Love.
“My dad has encouraged me to step up and do more to help people,” he said. “I really hope my actions lead to more people, not just kids, taking time to help people in times of need. People would say I am a good kid, but I say I am a kid who likes to do good things for others.”
Scripture assures us of as much.
Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.