Christmas was a joyous time of year for more than 200 inner-city children thanks to Worth resident David Riley.
Riley, 18, collected toys for children of all ages during the holiday season, a project he undertook to become an Eagle Scout. The Shepard High School senior has not achieved the rank of Eagle Scout—a Boy Scout review board has yet to make that determination—but the project was about more than earning the Scouts highest rank, he said.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Riley said.
Riley’s living room was packed with the toys that he along with friends, scout leaders and family collected over a two-week period. His sister, Emily, a Shepard freshman, created the poster to promote the toy drive and decorated the collection boxes.
The boxes were placed in several Worth businesses, and residents did the rest by donating toys to children who otherwise would not receive a Christmas gift, Riley said. Worth Mayor Mary Werner helped get the ball rolling by donating 30 toys, he said.
Riley, who collected twice as many toys as expected, and his family loaded up a van the weekend before Christmas and delivered the presents to Christ the King Lutheran Church in Chicago.
Church volunteers wrapped and distributed the gifts to the children, who often are more concerned with where their filling their bellies than opening a present, Riley said.
“The pastor was pretty excited,” said Riley, who wants to study aviation in college.
Riley’s holiday mission made his mother beam.
“I’m very proud of him,” said Tina Riley. “He did a lot of hard work.”
She added that she’s proud of Worth residents, who responded to a good cause during the holiday season.
Riley has submitted a project report to the Boy Scouts, who will let him know if was sufficient to earn Scouting’s top honor.
“Now he just has to wait for them to call,” Tina Riley said. “We’re very excited.”
Riley is no stranger to volunteer work as a long-time Scout.
A graduate of Worth Elementary School and Worth Junior High School, Riley entered Scouts when he was 6 years old as a Tiger Cub. He designed three fishing derby patches, each which won the patch design contest at the Scout’s annual fishing derby at Tampier Lake. The patches were given to every Scout who entered the derby.
Riley and Troop 668 have participated in the annual ton of food drive in Worth, Veterans’ ceremonies, visited the veterans’ home in Manteno, painted fire hydrants in Worth, marched in the annual Worth Days Parade and volunteered in the Lucas Berg Ditch cleanup. Riley also enjoys going to Owassippe in Michigan for the annual week long camping trip.
Riley works as a bus boy at Worth the American Legion and as a merchandiser for a company that provides flowers to Home Depot stores. He currently works at McDonald’s in Oak Lawn.