Antonio Sanchez, Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, Wilena Orr and Erica Sanchez inside of Mariella’s Banquets in Maywood on Christmas Eve moments before taking donated toys to children in need. | Michael Romain/VFP
Saturday, December 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Antonio Sanchez, who owns and operates Mariella’s Banquets, 124 S. 5th Ave., didn’t want this Christmas to go by without doing something for those in need. So, about a month ago, he set up a cardboard box the size of a mini refrigerator near the entrance to one of the business’s main banquet facilities and encouraged customers to fill it with toys.
“I matched whatever they brought in,” Sanchez said during an interview this morning. “I went to Target and bought a bunch of toys.”
Sanchez turned the gifts over to Wilena Orr, who works at the Quinn Community Center in Maywood. This Christmas, Orr will deliver more than 50 bags of gifts to the children of battered women.
Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, who was also on hand for the toy giveaway, said he recommended the Quinn Center to Sanchez as a potential depository of the businessman’s giving spirit.
“That’s what’s important about community policing,” Talley said. “Since I’m in the community, I know what the needs are. And Quinn does an excellent job serving victims of domestic abuse.”
Talley, who was recently selected to head up the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club, added that the organization’s focus has been on domestic violence education. The Rotary, he said, has partnered with Quinn to provide more resources for victims of domestic violence.”
“When kids go through domestic violence situations, they often get displaced from their homes,” said Talley. “During this time of year, that can ruin a kid’s Christmas and cause long-lasting memories. So, what Tony is doing is tremendously important.”
“I just want to counter some of the negatives we have in the community with something positive,” said Sanchez, who helped host a similar toy drive on the grounds of Mariella last year. “I came from very humble beginnings and Christmas was hard, so I know what some children go through.”
Sanchez’s wife, Erica, said that, after sharing the idea on his personal Facebook page, dozens of people gave positive feedback, often inquiring how they could help.
“People want to get involved in things like this,” Erica said.
Orr said that, in addition to toys, the kids also need clothes, coats and hats. She passes out the items throughout the year. VFP
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