The Halle Grace Foundation is hosting its sixth annual Halle Grace Foundation Toy Drive until Monday, May 30 to celebrate Halle Grace Heilman’s 22nd birthday. Halle passed away in July of 2015 after suffering from a rare chromosome deletion, but, following her death, her family established a foundation in her name to keep her memory alive and celebrate her life.
“It makes her birthday something we still celebrate every year. We know that other kids are getting presents on her birthday, so that makes us happy,” said Jillian Heilman, mother of Halle and founder of the nonprofit organization.
The toy drive is its way of giving back to their community and supporting young children like Halle who are in the hospital. The toys suited for patients up to 18 years old will be donated on Halle’s birthday on Thursday, June 2 to Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and other hospitals in the area.
“One of the things that brought her a ton of joy, especially when she was a little kid, was when the toy cart came by, and it would come by every day of the week, and there would be a new toy she could pick out,” said Jillian. “It would just brighten her day no matter what her treatments were or if she was going to surgery.”
Last year, the toy drive collected over 2,100 toys and donated to five locations, and the foundation hopes to surpass that number this year. The drive donated 300 toys in its inaugural year in 2016 and has grown exponentially since. The Halle Grace Foundation has worked with other schools and organizations to offer service hours to student volunteers that help collect toys and advertise the collection.
Halle battled for 15 years against the illness, taking joy in proving the doctors who limited her wrong. She learned to dance, developed a love for fine cuisine despite being on a feeding tube for years and even ran a 5K at 7 years old.
To donate, drop toys off at 2928 Chelsea Woods Dr. in Valrico, Melissa Snively’s State Farm office in Lithia, the Florida Hawks FC soccer fields in the FishHawk Sports Complex or Bloomingdale High School.