TOLEDO, Ohio — Around this time each year, the holiday season puts many in the giving spirit.
For the second year in a row, since COVID-19 put many plans on hold, Little Miss Ohio and Little Miss Buckeye State have continued their reign - which typically lasts only one year - and are collecting toys for the kids at Mercy Children's Hospital.
Little Miss Ohio Addison King and her best friend, Little Miss Buckeye State Kallie Lewis, collected 600 toys last year for Mercy Children's Hospital.
Addison's mom Jennifer King said last year they only had three toy donation locations but managed to gather so much. This year, with 12 different toy donation locations, the pair have covered more ground but aren't seeing as many donations.
The collection goal this year is to fill a U-Haul truck, Addison explained.
"I just want the kids to be happy," Addison said.
Though the goal may have seemed a little lofty, it doesn't matter, Jennifer King still beams.
"It makes me proud. She has one of the biggest hearts that I've ever met, I'm hoping she stays that way," Jennifer King said.
Jennifer King and Heidi Lewis, Kallie Lewis' mother, teamed up to get 12 different donation locations for the toy drive:
Knowing that the pair will collect numerous brand new toys across Lucas and Wood counties, when asked if Little Miss Ohio would take advantage of the chance to keep a toy for all her good deeds, she immediately shut it down.
"No. I want to give them to the kids because sometimes they can't get the toys because they're in the hospital," Addison said.
The co-owner of one of the toy drop-off locations, TJ Miller at All America Pizza and More, said he and his co-owner brother believe in good karma.
Thus, local businesses have to care of the community that cares for them.
And, he added, just look who's asking for help.
"They're awesome. You know what I mean. How could you not? I mean look at the face, you gonna tell them no?" Miller exclaimed.
Miller has known Kallie Lewis since she was a baby. He added that he'd just met Addison King a few months back and wanted to make sure he'd helped the girls reach their toy collection goal. So, All American Pizza and More began schmoozing customers.
"From now until whenever they pick up the box, we'll give them $3 off their order, anything over $10. That way it gives them a little bit of an incentive to give an unwrapped gift to give to Mercy," Miller said.
Jennifer King said she was surprised at Addison's entire pageant adventure. The Little Miss Ohio title was only Addison's second-ever pageant and frankly, she was caught off guard when she had won.
But, it was something that Addison wanted to try and Jennifer said any parents who have thought about entering their child into pageants should definitely keep one thing in mind.
"Don't make it all about just the crown. She wants to retire after this because she wants kids to see that you can do good deeds without the crown," Jennifer King said.
The focus after the win is on helping the community.