Children who lost a parent to violence will receive toy trucks donated in tribute to the boy who died at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium when he fell into the African painted dogs exhibit.
Scroll down to read a letter from Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh.
Children attending the Tree of Hope‘s 13th annual Christmas Celebration Friday evening will receive some of the 5,700 toy trucks donated since Maddox Derkosh‘s death in November, said Betty Borzilleri, office manager for the William Slater II Funeral Home in Scott, which stored the toys.
“We‘re so very thankful,” said Tree of Hope Founder Adrienne Young. “We know each of these children will receive joy from these trucks.”
A women‘s shelter and Children‘s Hospital of Pittsburgh also have gotten some of the donated toys, Borzilleri said.
“It‘s been phenomenal,” Borzilleri said.
Maddox, 2, of Whitehall bled to death when he fell into the African painted dogs exhibit and the animals mauled him Nov. 4.
Pittsburgh police said his mother, Elizabeth Derkosh, 33, lifted him onto a 4-foot fence on an observation deck from which he fell, bounced off a net meant to catch litter and landed in the exhibit.
Tree of Hope founder Adrienne Young started the organization in 1994 after her son was shot and killed days before Christmas, leaving behind a daughter. She expects between 300 and 350 children at the celebration at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Church on North Highland Avenue in East Liberty.
“When these young men get killed, they leave behind children,” Young said. “We have Christmas for them.”
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC, Catholic Charities, Mount Arrant Church, Allegheny Labor Council, Toys for Tots, Focus Pittsburgh, The Best of Batch Foundation, King of Kings Community Church (providing support to victims of Hurricane Sandy), The Education Partnership, Veterans Leadership Homeless Program, Allegheny County Homeless Children's Initiative, and Allegheny County Department of Human Services also recieved trucks from the Trucks for Maddox toy drive.
Letter from the Derkosh family:
Thank you to everyone in our community and beyond for your kindness, your support, and your generosity since the loss of our son, Maddox.
Trucks For Maddox, a holiday toy-truck drive intended to keep his spirit alive by helping other children, has been a success because of the incredible effort by a team of volunteers, including family, friends, firefighters and other first responders, unions, businesses, and churches.
These supporters donated toys instead of flowers (at our request) through Trucks for Maddox to participating Christmas charities.
We wish we could personally thank everyone involved, including strangers from around the world who sent trucks. This outpouring of support has been a great source of comfort to us as we grieve. Our hearts have been touched beyond words.
We are eternally grateful to the following without whom Trucks for Maddox would not have been possible: William Slater II Funeral Home, American Textiles, City of Pittsburgh Fire Companies, Whitehall Police, St. Bernard's Church and Parishioners, Signs By Tomorrow, Kindercare Learning Center, Courtney's Charities, Heather's Haven, Bedford Speedway, Thunder Valley Raceway, Kristin Nock, Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Deep Run Community Soccer, Don Farr Moving Company, and Citizens Bank.
Collected toys, enough to fill several truck loads as of today, have been donated for distribution to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC, Catholic Charities, Mount Arrant Church, Allegheny Labor Council, Toys for Tots, Focus Pittsburgh, The Best of Batch Foundation, King of Kings Community Church (providing support to victims of Hurricane Sandy), The Education Partnership, Veterans Leadership Homeless Program, Allegheny County Homeless Children's Initiative, and Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
Thank you again to our amazing and supportive community for helping to start what we hope will become a new holiday tradition, Trucks for Maddox.
Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh