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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Amp Harris, IMS team up to continue Christmas tradition through pandemic

For the past 12 years, Indianapolis community leader Amp Harris raised money to buy toys for thousands of local children.

INDIANAPOLIS — The pandemic has forced an annual Christmas toy giveaway to make some major changes.  

For the past 12 years, Indianapolis community leader Amp Harris raised money to buy toys for thousands of local children. His annual "Put A Smile On A Child's Face For Christmas" toy drive will still happen while keeping families safe.

Harris teamed up with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year for a "toy drive-by" to help needy families. 

After seeing the event grow over the past dozen years, Harris realized due to the pandemic it would take some serious adjusting for an event this year. 

He put in one phone call to IMS officials who immediately agreed to come to the rescue. 

The biggest concern for Harris was knowing if he cancelled the toy giveaway due to the pandemic, so many families would not enjoy Christmas 2020. 

More importantly, there would be no smiles on the faces of so many children he gets to help.

"I see myself in that kid that struggled. You know, as a young kid that didn't have it for Christmas. Then I also see my mother in a lot of the female parents out there," Harris said. 

Credit: WTHR
File photo of Amp Harris in 2019.

The Christmas drive-by participants will drive part of the track at IMS to pick up their toys. Most of the children he hopes to help are ages one to 10. 

You can find Harris on social media to make donations. Individual and corporate donations can be made via PayPal to Harris or to his CashApp, $AMPOWERMOVE. 

Contributors can also drop off unopened toys at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum located inside the track. 

Harris usually plans to help 1,000 families, but this year he hopes to help 2,000, since so many families are struggling due to the effects of the pandemic. 

Families needing help with Christmas can sign up at the John H. Boner Community Center on E. 10th Street in Indianapolis. 

The families who will receive invitations to participate in the Toy Drive-By will all be selected ahead of time after being identified by community center workers. 

Harris looks forward to eventually getting the opportunity to meet the families on the day of event.