Man collects toys for Harvey flood victims for Christmas

It's been almost 4 months since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. It destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of families. As many are still working to get back into a home, they're also trying to figure out how to still celebrate the holidays.

It's been almost four months since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, destroying hundreds of homes, and displacing thousands of families. 

As many are still working to get back into a permanent place to live, they're also trying to figure out how to still celebrate the holidays. 

That’s where Mike Sweeney comes in. 

"It was really important that they have a Christmas, a lot of those families spent everything they have in the recovery mode," said Sweeney. 

Sweeney said he recognized the need back in September. 

"When the hurricane hit, all the efforts were going into rebuilding and recovery, and I realized at the time that Christmas was coming, and a lot of kids from all the families that had their homes destroyed or damaged were probably not going to have much of a Christmas,” said Sweeney. 

He and a few local Williamson County businesses owners have been slowly collecting toys since then. But only recently have the donations picked up. 

"It's starting to pick up as Christmas comes closer, people are shopping and they're starting to see we're out there and collecting gifts,” said Sweeney. "There are a lot of people in need, and I think it's time to give."

"What do these families still need, and they need joy,” said Natalie Decesare.

Decesare is a college student at Southwestern University in Georgetown, and is now working for Sweeney. 

"We knew that we wanted to do something special to help families, and we knew that people were going to donate money, and all sorts of supplies, but wanted to do something long term,” said Decesare. "People always donate immediately, and then they forget the holidays come around and then you still don't have those necessities, and those sentimental things."

Decesare is from the Houston area and knows that need well. 

"My family was flooded into our home, and my grandparents actually had to come to our home, because their home was actually flooded out,” said Decesare. "It was just scary because one neighborhood was completely fine, and a block over it was completely devastated, and so I was just scared.”

She said several families still won't be home for the holidays. And those are the families Sweeney wants to help. 

"It just seemed that nobody was thinking about it, everybody was thinking about putting dry wall up," said Sweeney. 

Sweeney and friends have already collected dozens of toys and plan to deliver them to Brown and Blue Santa programs in the Houston area. 

Originally, Sweeney planned to wrap up the drive this week, but he's extending it and hoping to collect more toys.

"If you think that there were 49,000 homes that were destroyed, plus all the other damaged, there's a lot of other families there. I don't think we can get enough gifts,” said Sweeney. 

"I guess it's just a way to get back to normalcy, and to just be a kid for that moment, and not be a victim of something awful,” said Decesare. 

"I would encourage everyone to be generous," said Sweeney. "There's a lot of families down there with nothing, nothing at all.”

© 2018 KVUE-TV


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