When she walked into a rec room at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Chasity’s eyes grew wide.
Hundreds of toys neatly stacked around the room overwhelmed the 7-year-old girl who could only stand and admire all the potential fun.
The collection included toy trucks, art kits, lunch boxes, dolls, puzzles, sand art, building blocks, Dora the Explorer items, remote control cars and pretty much everything else.
“There’s too many toys. I can’t decide,” Chasity commented as her mom, Alice Robinson, watched on as the girl in a hospital gown looked at the toys.
Chasity was one of the dozens of children at the hospital who got to select their own special Christmas present last year thanks to Jessie Tendayi. The hard-working cafeteria worker saves money year-all year long so she can buy toys for the children at Christmas.
In 2016, Tendayi spent about $4,500 of her own money to buy around 1,300 toys.
“I have to do what I have to do to make the children happy,” Tendayi noted
Tendayi recently visited Advocate Children’s Hospital and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
“Why do I do it? God put it in my heart,” the generous woman explained. “One day I was watching TV and I saw children in need. I asked myself, ‘What should I do for them to calm down what they are going through?’ So I started saving my money to make sure the children had something to play with while they are sick, so they can forget their pain.”
Back in 2009, she began small with a few hundred dollars in toys. Every year since, she’s boosted her spending and the number of toys she’s given away.
She and her husband, Wendell, came to Chicago from Zimbabwe almost two decades ago. The couple have no children of their own.
Tendayi puts away money every paycheck so she will have enough for her year-end toy shopping spree.
The committed woman has worked as a server for 18 years in the cafeteria at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago.