‘She’s just an amazing human being:’ Hospital cafeteria worker buys toys for sick kids

CHICAGO — Jessie Tendayi spends her days serving food in a hospital cafeteria, but this week, she takes on a different role as a Christmas angel to dozens of sick children.

Touched by the families stuck in hospital wards over the holidays, Tendayi decided 10 years ago that she would set aside a chunk of every paycheck to buy toys for the children the following December. Since then, she has gifted Christmas toys to thousands of children.

"It's unbelievable. She buys thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of toys just to brighten these kids holidays. She is just an amazing human being," said Melissa Cavanaugh,  from Advocate Children's Hospital.

This year was no different; her toy donations fill two full rooms at Advocate Children's Hospital. It took a team of 8 people to unload the truck to fill what is now known as "Jessie's Toy Shop." To pay for it all, Tendayi picks up extra shifts in Advocate Trinity Hospital's cafeteria throughout the year.

"You have to make sacrifices if you want to give," Tendayi said. "I made a choice to put them first over me, and it's worth it. It makes a difference to people that somebody cares."

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