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—Indiana’s 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’s family restaurant, Donatello’s 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. “The 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,” Aasen said. “The 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.” Aasen said that they have businesses and groups that host their holiday parties at Donatello’s who have made the toy drive part of their celebrations while dining at the restaurant. What Kinds of Toys Are Being Collected? “Four years later, the drive has gotten so big that the toys won’t all fit in a large SUV,” Aasen exclaimed. “When people express concerns about the cost of toy drives, I tell them that they don’t 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’s the better option. Also, people like to buy for the little kids because they’re the most fun to buy for, but I also try to buy for the older kids too, so they don’t feel left out.” 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 “One of the coolest things we saw last year was a mother who brought her kids in to drop off the toys,” Aasen recalled. “She 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.” As the toy drive continues to grow and lift the spirits of our Hoosier community’s 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’t as fortunate as others. “The holidays can bring out a lot of emotions for people—good and bad—and if you're going through a tough time in life, that can be heightened by the holidays,” Aasen said. “So, 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.” Please consider donating a toy to this year’s drive benefiting The Villages and drop off your item(s) at Donatello’s located at 9 W. Main St., in Carmel.