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Johnia Berry Holiday Toy Drive underway across the region

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Nov 8, 2018 at 10:22 PM

Johnia Berry had wrapped Christmas gifts for children she worked with at the ETSU Little Bucs care center the evening before she was stabbed to death by would-be robber at her Knoxville apartment.

Her family delivered the gifts to the children they were tagged for before Christmas arrived that year and every year since then, the family has expanded on Johnia’s final act of kindness and caring for children.

This year’s 13th annual Johnia Berry Memorial Toy Drive kicked off on Monday and will continue through Dec. 3 at Food City stores from Morristown to Abingdon, Va.

Last year, more than 3,500 toys were collected in Johnia’s memory and distributed to schools and child service organizations across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia for the neediest of their children at children.

Those who wish to chip in this year may place new, unwrapped toys for children from infancy through age 14 in collection barrels located at the front of the stores.

The barrels will be collected on Dec. 4 and the toys will be distributed to the schools and nonprofit groups on the Dec 6 anniversary of Johnia’s murder. The toys will be distributed from the Food City store on South Roan Street, where she shopped while she was a student at East Tennessee State University.

The family’s goal is always to meet or exceed the toy’s drive success in its previous holiday season. And their special request is always for contibutors to remember older children ages 12-14 whose need for inclusion in the season’s gift giving is sometimes forgotten.

Local agencies that benefit from the drive include the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee in Jonesborough, the Haven of Mercy, the Safe House domestic violence shelter formerly known as Safe Passage, ETSU’s Little Bucs and numerous public school systems across the region.

For more information visit JohniaBerry.org or the Johnia Berry Toy Drive page on Facebook.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook atfacebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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