Pete O'Neal, the person behind the Kindertime Toy Drive

For 15 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 29 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. 

Jeromia

Pete talks about that night, "It's estimated I covered 1800 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 15th year the toy drive has grown with support from Celebree Learning, WalMart, Baltimore County Fire Stations and State Police.

Each year the toy drive is dedicated to fallen heroes. 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."

From Friday, November 29 until Monday, December 23, you can drop off new, unwrapped toys at the following MECU locations:

Phone number for all MECU locations – 410-752-8313
Charles L. Benton Jr. Westview Branch 5910 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville, MD 21228 Commercentre Branch – open noon to 7:00 pm 1777 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, Maryland 21208 Elmer Bernhardt Headquarters Branch 7 East Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Dundalk Branch 7220 Holabird Avenue, Dundalk, MD 21222 Fayette Remote Teller System 401 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 Harry Deitchman PJM Center Branch 312 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21201
Herman Williams Jr. Fallstaff Center Branch 6814 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore, MD 21215 John T. O'Mailey Hamilton Center Branch 2337 E. Northern Parkway, Baltimore, MD 21214 Loch Ridge Center Branch – open noon to 7:00 pm 8507 Loch Raven Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21286


More dropoff locations here: http://abc2news.com/toydrive

These 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.

Our big distribution day will take place on Monday, December 2 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at ABC2, WMAR TV studios at 6400 York Road, as a caravan of emergency vehicles will leave the television station with sirens blaring, lights flashing and toys in tow. WATCH LIVE: http://abc2news.com/live

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