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Damar Hamlin’s toy drive tops $5 million; Why he started it
Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin. (Left PC: © JAMIE GERMANO/USA TODAY NETWORK; Right PC: Damar Hamlin/Instagram)

Damar Hamlin’s toy drive tops $5 million; Why he started it

NEW YORK (BVM) – Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been in critical condition for nearly 20 hours since suffering a cardiac arrest on the field following a hit during Monday Night Football. Since the 24-year-old’s horrific injury, fans have been showing their support by donating to Hamlin’s 2020 GoFundMe toy drive fundraiser

$5 million in donations and counting. (Via GoFundMe at 5:30 CT on Tuesday, January 3, 2023)

The GoFundMe, which received about $3,000 in donations during its inaugural year in 2020, is now up more than $5 million after fans uncovered the fundraiser on Monday. 

Hamlin held his first inaugural toy drive at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in December of 2020. He wasn’t in the NFL yet; he was playing football at the University of Pittsburgh. He took on the challenge despite a busy schedule, which he details in a vlog on his YouTube page — shown below.  

Hamlin’s toy drive is a project very close to his heart since he donates to the kids in his hometown of Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). He shows up with toys that range from footballs to doll houses to bicycles, and he interacts with the kids himself. 

“Just seeing role models in person I feel like that’s big in kids’ lives and that’s something we haven’t always had in Pittsburgh,” Hamlin said in his vlog. “… I’m thankful I can even be in this position to give back. I can’t really remember too many people that got in front of me to show me this is the way to go. So, I feel like it’s important for me to do it because I know the difference it can play in a kid’s life even if it’s just me it can have a big impact on their lives to keep them out of trouble.”

The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive had its third annual toy drive in December of 2022, which Hamlin detailed on his Instagram. Being in his second year in the NFL, he hasn’t given up his promise to always give back. 

“I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform (as an NFL player) to positively impact the community that raised me,” Hamlin wrote when he made the GoFundMe in 2020. 

But after the 2020 GoFundMe, it appears that Hamlin never updated the goal for future toy drives nor did he create a new one. Although the GoFundMe might have seemed like a thing of the past to Hamlin, he’ll be very surprised to see that fans uncovered the page which now has donations from over 175,000+ donors and a top donation of $20,000. Notably, the page has recently been updated from a fundraiser organized by just Damar Hamlin to “Damar Hamlin and Damar’s Team”.  

Some familiar names in the NFL who have donations in the top 10 include Tom Brady ($10k), Russell & Ciara Wilson ($10k) and the Washington Commanders ($5k). However, it’s important to note that anyone can edit their own donation name shown on the fundraiser. 

A toy drive that started to “make the holiday season a little brighter for the kids” looks to be one that’ll make a bigger impact than Hamlin ever imagined.

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