For 16 years ABC2 has been proud to support photographer Pete O’Neal with the “It’s Kindertime Toy Drive”.
While many of our generous ABC2 viewers have donated to the toy drive, allowing us to give tens of thousands of children toys over the years, many don’t know the story behind why it all began. This is that story.
The “It’s Kindertime Toy Drive” was started by ABC2 Photojournalist Pete O’Neal. Pete has been a member of the ABC2 News team for 30 years. As a photographer he chased many breaking news stories, seeing many crime scenes.
He was at work one night in 1993 when all those crimes he covered, became his reality, his mother, Jeromia was found murdered.
Pete talks about that night, “It’s estimated I covered 1,800 homicides by the time my mother was murdered. I remember the number in 1993 my mother was 69 for the year. When that happened I was working and I couldn’t reach her. I went to the house and had an officer meet me there. When we got there we found her on the floor. All the homicides I had covered I had this competitive nature, I didn’t think about the pain people were going through, until this happened to my mom. The 10 years of homicides I covered flashed before my eyes at that moment.”
His mother’s case grew cold and while police officers worked the case Pete decided to work to paint a better picture for city youth. He started with a children’s show, “It’s Kindertime” and moved on to the ABC2 Kindertime Toy Drive.
In this 16th year the toy drive has grown with support from MECU, The Young School, WalMart, Baltimore County Fire Stations and State Police.
Due to the tireless efforts of police, detectives and firefighters helping to solve Pete’s mom’s cold case, each year the toy drive is dedicated to fallen officers and firefighters .We asked Pete how his mother’s murder turned into a mission to help children in need, “I wanted to paint a different picture for city children, that there were different paths they could take. Show them there is another world out there for them.”
The toys will be given to children at the Ronald McDonald House and Kennedy Krieger as well as children in need on the Eastern Shore, Baltimore City and in Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, and Anne Arundel Counties.