Lehigh Valley

A vow to make this Sassy Massey Toy Drive the biggest ever

Toy drive to honor Jillian Massey's spirit.

COOPERSBURG, Pa. - Cancer may have claimed 5-year-old Jillian Massey's life, but it didn't claim her spirit.

The sassy Coopersburg girl died Monday night about six months after her family learned her brain and spinal cancer was terminal.

The family, sharing Jillian's death Monday night, said Jillian hadn't lost her battle because she never knew she was in one.

But Jillian sure knew joy and love because in her final months, the community rallied behind the Masseys to help Jillian cross off bucket list items like going to Bermuda, riding a school bus, becoming a cheerleader, and being a veterinarian.

But there was one bucket list item Jillian and her family and friends were still working on: collecting 10,000 toys to donate to CHOP and other hospitals on December 18.

“For people at CHOP who don't have any toys but they're gonna have lots of fun with them," Jillian said in a video her mom posted to Facebook last month.

"Jillian told us to get 10,000 toys, and that's what we'll do," said Dan Emmerson, organizer of the toy drive.

Last year, Dan Emmerson helped the family launch the first Sassy Massey Toy Drive in Jillian's honor.

He suggested the toy collection as a way for their employer to give back during the holidays and honor Jillian's spirit, which is why "Sassy" was included in the name.

The goal then was to collect 50 toys, enough to hand out a gift to each child on the oncology floor where Jillian received treatment.

It didn't take long to achieve that goal.

By the hundreds, toys started showing up at the Massey home.

The drive, mostly powered by an Amazon Wish List, collected about 3,000 toys in 2016.

At the conclusion of last year's drive, police escorted Jillian and the toys to CHOP and temporarily shut down I-95 to make it happen.

Once at the hospital, dozens of volunteers delivered the gifts assembly line style into the hotel lobby.

So, it was no surprise this year when Jillian and her crew upped the goal.

In a video announcing the return of the drive, Emmerson asked Jillian, nicknamed the drive's CEO, if she wanted to make it bigger and get more toys:  "YEAH!" Jillian squealed with joy.

Once again, Jillian's community of supporters jumped in full throttle.

Her brother's classmates at Southern Lehigh Middle School raised $15,000 to fund a shopping spree at the Quakertown-area Target in November.

It wasn't just a shopping trip; it was a full production that included once again, an impressive police escort, handmade signs, and even a marching band through the store aisles.

It was a parade of pride that Jillian led with a giant grin and a giant crown on her head. After several hours of shopping, an entire U-Haul truck was nearly filled.

But the goal still wasn't met.

Jillian died while the drive was about 3,000 toys short.

In a video posted to social media Wednesday, Emmerson said he first suggested to Jillian's mom that they push back the toy drive and pull the plug on the delivery.

"She nicely told me that's never going to happen and we need to make it even larger now to honor everything she's done," Emmerson said. "That's what Jillian loved to do, give to others, spread kindness and cheer."

And with that, Emmerson urged followers on the Jillian Paige-You Got This Girl Facebook Page to help rally more support and more toys before the December 13th deadline.

"Actually, I'm not asking, I'm begging," he said.

Along with his plea, Emmerson invited followers to join in on what's sure to be another magical toy-send off.

On December 18, there will be a pep rally at Ridley Township High School where once again police cruisers will line up.

But, this year, it will be bigger this year.  Emmerson says there will be two helicopters, mounted horses, and K-9 units.

The public is welcome to join the event that begins at 9:30 a.m.

Around 11 a.m. that day, the trucks filled with thousands of toys will head to CHOP, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Doylestown Hospital, and The Ronald McDonald House with the toys.

TO DONATE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2SUU8C0B2OKEP/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_24_2 


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