December 2019 Local resident, co-business owner and Carmel City Councilor-elect Adam Aasen has made giving back part of his holiday tradition and continues to garner the support of community members for his annual toy drive that benefits The Villages\u2014Indiana\u2019s largest nonprofit child and family services agency. Aasen and his family have organized the toy drive over the last few years as a meaningful way to help The Villages and its foster families have a memorable holiday season and so the children know that there are people out there that they will likely never meet but who care about them enough to bring them joy and a gift this holiday season. Aasen\u2019s family restaurant, Donatello\u2019s Italian Restaurant, is collecting unopened and unwrapped toys for children of all ages until December 9 during its regular business hours. Inspired to Make a Difference Aasen shared that the idea for the toy drive came about while he was attending a weekly Carmel Rotary Club meeting and heard a representative from The Villages speak. \u201cThe wheels in my head started turning, and I was coming up with ways that we could help this population because the need is definitely there,\u201d Aasen said. \u201cThe toy drive seemed like something that would be easy to start, so I made some signs and posted on social media, and the customers started dropping off toys, and it just kept getting bigger from there.\u201d Aasen said that they have businesses and groups that host their holiday parties at Donatello\u2019s who have made the toy drive part of their celebrations while dining at the restaurant. What Kinds of Toys Are Being Collected? \u201cFour years later, the drive has gotten so big that the toys won\u2019t all fit in a large SUV,\u201d Aasen exclaimed. \u201cWhen people express concerns about the cost of toy drives, I tell them that they don\u2019t need to donate expensive gifts. If you buy lower-priced items, then more kids get gifts, rather than donating one expensive gift that goes to only one child. I think that\u2019s the better option. Also, people like to buy for the little kids because they\u2019re the most fun to buy for, but I also try to buy for the older kids too, so they don\u2019t feel left out.\u201d Toys such as games, books for infants, toddlers, tween and teens, action figures, stuffed animals, toy cars, dolls, infant toys, art\/coloring supplies and outdoor toys\/activities are examples of items that are being collected. The Spirit of Giving \u201cOne of the coolest things we saw last year was a mother who brought her kids in to drop off the toys,\u201d Aasen recalled. \u201cShe had them pick out the toys and deliver them here as a lesson to her children about the importance of giving to others. It was such a positive experience.\u201d As the toy drive continues to grow and lift the spirits of our Hoosier community\u2019s foster families, Aasen mentioned that as a father, he has a different perspective on the needs of Hoosier children and recognizes there are many kids out there who aren\u2019t as fortunate as others. \u201cThe holidays can bring out a lot of emotions for people\u2014good and bad\u2014and if you're going through a tough time in life, that can be heightened by the holidays,\u201d Aasen said. \u201cSo, anything we can do to make the holidays a little better and a little easier for someone else, I think it's the right thing to do.\u201d Please consider donating a toy to this year\u2019s drive benefiting The Villages and drop off your item(s) at Donatello\u2019s located at 9 W. Main St., in Carmel.