PARMA, OH (WOIO) - Mario's Barbershop in Parma has launched a new hurricane relief drive to help ease the burden for families who lost their homes and possessions in Hurricane Irma.
"No child wants to wake up and not have a gift," said Mario Innocenzi, owner of Mario's Barber Shop. "If we can make sure at least one kid has a gift it's a blessing."
Innocenzi is asking Northeast Ohioans to donate a new, unwrapped toy that will eventually be sent to Immokalee, Fla.
"It's a very low-income area," Innocenzi said. "They lost every single thing they had. We're going to take it to the Immokalee Fire Department, and allow them to pass it out to the people in the area."
Innocenzi is familiar with the situation because last month he organized efforts to collect cleaning supplies and food for victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. His original goal was to fill one 15-foot moving truck, but donations just kept coming.
"It just went nuts," Innocenzi said.
He ended up sending more than half a dozen moving trucks and two large shipping containers to damaged areas in Texas and Florida. So many supplies were donated, Innocenzi had to use empty store space next to his business as a sorting and packing center.
He, along with family members and volunteers, drove the supplies to Texas.
Witnessing the devastation first-hand and seeing pictures from others who got supplies to Florida made Innocenzi realize even more had to be done.
"Immokalee really got hit. No one really thinks that Florida got hit bad but it did," Innocenzi said. "When our trucks got there, you saw the people (and) you saw the devastation. You know we're all human. We all cry."
He said the toy drive for the children of Immokalee will hopefully ease any worries about having a good Christmas at a time when adults are focused on bigger things.
Innocenzi's goal is to fill one moving truck with toys and drive it down to Florida, but given his track record he's preparing for many more donations. He's also working to send toys to orphanages in Northeast Ohio.
He said the hearts of Northeast Ohioans are unmatched.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at Mario's Barber Shop at 7526 Broadview Road during regular business hours.
The business is in the Pleasant Valley Shopping Center. It's open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Innocenzi can be also be reached at 216-520-1977. The toy drive will run through early November.