Chicago hospital worker spends her $5K savings to buy toys for sick kids

Jessie Tendayi

Jessie Tendayi loves children. The food service aide with Trinity Hospital in Chicago first started giving away toys in 2009. She donated 100 items. For 2016, she delivered 10 times as many toys to young hospital patients at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

Tendayi, 54, spent about $4,500 of her own money to buy about 1,300 toys, including trucks, art kits, lunch boxes, dolls, puzzles, building blocks, Dora the Explorer items, cars and more from Family Dollar and Walgreens stores.

It takes two to three days to complete the shopping.

“It brings joy to me, and also brings joy to the children, that I’m making a difference,” the native of Zimbabwe tells media. “But I do now. I do have a lot.”

She works additional shifts to earn the money to fund her vision. She has served food for 18 years at Advocate Trinity Hospital located at 2320 E. 93rd St. in Chicago.

“It’s not about being rich. It’s not about money. The little we have, we can share. For me, it’s a blessing. I’m able to make a difference for the children. Children, they need somebody who cares about them. You want to make a difference to them. I felt in my heart I had to do something for the children,” she tells the Chicago Tribune.

Tendayi and her husband, Wendell, moved to Chicago 19 years ago and they don’t have any children. It’s her goal to donate toys to sick kids year-round. She founded a charity named Love for Children to help fund that initiative.

“It’s a very good day for me. I’m happy, I’m happy to do this,” Tendayi says. ‘When God puts this in your heart, you don’t get tired. You love what you’re doing. I love helping other people.”

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