For the second year in a row, 8-year-old Dublin resident Maya Bakhru came to the aid of children in need, this year collecting 450 toys for Franklin County Children Services' Holiday Wish program.
Ritu Bakhru said her daughter, a third-grader at Columbus Academy, was moved to collect toys when they visited the family's seamstress in her home last October.
"Maya was just shocked," Bakhru said, and felt bad the seamstress' daughter didn't have toys.
That evening, unknown to Ritu, Maya used her mother's phone to send texts to some of her mother's friends, asking that they attend a toy party, Ritu said.
Her daughter's plans materialized into a toy drive, which collected 300 toys for Franklin County Children Services, Ritu said.
This year, her second toy drive collected 450 toys.
Maya said the toys she collected included arts and crafts, Barbie dolls, sports toys, sticker books, stuffed animals and toys for babies.
Collecting the toys "felt good," she said, because in doing so she would help other kids have a good Christmas.
This year's toy drive was held Dec. 1, and friends, family and neighbors dropped off toys during the day at the family's home, Ritu said. The donations resulted in four carloads of toys for Franklin County Children Services.
Ritu and her husband, Mihir, live in Dublin with Maya and sons Krish, 11, and Shaan, 7. She said her daughter is a kind girl with a generous heart.
"I'm really proud of her," she said.
The Holiday Wish program, created in 1963, is Franklin County Children Services' opportunity to give children involved with the agency gifts, said Elizabeth Crabtree, director of the Holiday Wish program. Children served by the program might have experienced abuse, neglect or difficult home conditions, she said.
This year, about 6,500 children will receive gifts. Of that number, about 4,000 are under the age of 11, Crabtree said.
About 300 companies, groups and organizations and about 1,500 individuals like Maya donate to the program, Crabtree said.
"We have an incredibly generous community," she said.
Franklin County Children Services will hold its Make a Difference Night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at 855 W. Mound St. for those who want to learn about opportunities to make a difference by helping children and families served by Franklin County Children Services. More information is available by calling 614-275-2690.