The holiday season is often viewed as a time of hope and giving. People look forward to Christmas all year long. The holiday movies on television and the songs playing on the radio throughout December tell tales of generosity and “Christmas miracles.”

One local boy and his family are hoping to bring said miracles to some children who are in need of them.

A Christmas Toy Drive is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. at South Abington Park. The event is sponsored by Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles, a non-profit under the Scranton Area Foundation, which has a goal to “raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.”

The donated gifts will go to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). A list of approved toys can be found online at

Matthew McDonnell, who is the Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles founder, a pediatric cancer survivor and a student at South Abington Elementary School, knows what it’s like to spend Christmas Eve at CHOP. Matthew’s mother, Linda McDonnell recalls him receiving presents donated by the hospital one Christmas morning and “seeing the joy on his face” as he opened his gifts. The McDonnell family made the decision to hold a toy drive to “give back all the generosity that’s been given to us,” said McDonnell.

The family has received an outpouring of support from the community.

“It’s been unparalleled, really, the community certainly rallied around us,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell hopes for the event to be fun and simple, where people who are interested can donate small toys for children to have at their bedside, said McDonnell.

The Christmas toy drive will be accepting donations of new toys in their original packaging, such as board games, Legos, craft items and playing cards. Please refrain from donating stuffed animals. To find out more about the event and Matthew’s inspiring story, visit the Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles Facebook page.

Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles candles can be purchased at The sale is the nonprofit organization’s main fundraiser of the season.

Another way to help

Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles, with the help of Lisa Damiano Burke and Luminosa Designs, is holding a Christmas/Holiday Candle Fundraiser.

After attending a Pediatric Cancer Gala in Washington, D.C. this weekend and spending time with the National Wilm’s tumor expert, the McDonnel family learned that pediatric cancer research trials (especially the immunotherapy ones similar to the one that helped save Matthew’s life) are mainly funded by private foundations. Many of these foundations are run by families who have lost a child. This has strengthened their commitment to raise awareness and funds for children battling the disease.

To purchase a candle to benefit Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles, visit

Or, to make a donation by check, mail to: Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles, C/O℅ Scranton Area Foundation, 615 Jefferson Ave. Suite 102, Scranton, PA 18510


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