AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lifelong resident Ricky Diaz grew up in several north Austin neighborhoods, and is now giving current residents some holiday cheer this season.

Diaz is in his fifth year of hosting an annual toy drive, where he and several local businesses chip in to buy hundreds of toys for those whose families might not be able to afford holiday gifts. Last year, Diaz and partnering businesses raised approximately $5,000 and purchased around 500 toys.

“It made me realize many people really need help most of the holidays,” he said. “A lot of people are in bad situations.”

After the success of its first year, he took the drive public and would ask area businesses to either provide monetary donations for toys or allow him to place toy collection boxes in their stores. The grassroots effort has grown to a collaboration with around six businesses.

The drive provides toys for kids in several north Austin neighborhoods, including the Rundberg, Brownie Drive and St. John’s areas.

Diaz said that for families receiving toys, it can be just as impactful for the parents as it is for the kids. Last year, drive organizers decided to dress up in costumes like the Grinch and Mickey Mouse to add an extra dose of holiday magic to the experience.

North Austin resident Ricky Diaz is organizing his fifth toy drive for children's gifts this holiday season.
North Austin resident Ricky Diaz is organizing his fifth toy drive for children’s gifts this holiday season. (Courtesy: Ricky Diaz)

“It’s not only the kids that are happy and get excited,” he said. “The parents seem to enjoy it too. It’s just a really good feeling to be able to help out.”

Those interested in making monetary donations can do so through Dec. 19 by sending donations via Cashapp @$CPR512. In person donations are accepted through Dec. 23.