Third Annual Weston Cosey Toy Drive… Don’t Live in the Past But Continue to Love in the Future – www.elizabethton.com

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Weston Cosey was like many other boys his age. He loved life, he loved God and he had an infectious smile that spread around him.

Sadly, a tragic accident took Weston’s life all too soon, but his memory lives on thanks to the love of his family who will be kicking off the third annual Weston Cosey Toy Drive from 1-6 p.m. Saturday at Harmony Baptist Church. Freewill at Hampton.

The toy drive takes place in May because Cosey’s birthday is May 23. He would have been 9 years old on Monday.

“Every May, we kick off our Weston Memorial Toy Drive,” said Tammy Allen, Cosey’s grandmother. “We do it in May because May 23 is Weston’s birthday and it helps us spend his birthday. Anyone who’s lost a child knows that birthdays are tough because you always wonder how big they could be now, what they would look like, and what they would do.

“It’s easier for people to give in May because it doesn’t take away from people’s holidays and family. We do not want to cause financial pressure during the holidays.

The family and volunteers collect donations throughout the year to distribute during the holidays. “We take all year and last year we (gave) over 200 children in Weston’s memory,” Allen said. “We tell people that it’s like we don’t continue to live in the past, but we continue to love in the future. Weston loved all his friends and his smile was contagious and that’s something we do to give back to the community in honor of Weston.

Collecting toys is one of the biggest things the family does in memory of Cosey, and the members have also presented mascots to all the youth clubs and hosted a Valentine’s Day event for Valley Forge Elementary.

Jessica Gryder, Cosey’s aunt, started the toy drive and the event grew as it became a family event. “It’s a lot of work but we really appreciate it and it just keeps getting bigger,” Allen said.

“We encourage people to bargain and destock children’s toys because at Christmas they won’t be looking at the price of anything,” Allen said. “We are removing the beacons anyway. Most children are very grateful and happy to have this gift. We are not particular about anything. Anything they think kids would want or need or could use, we appreciate. Our goal is to continue to organize this toy drive every year. We work with Harmony Freewill Baptist Church and they are a good church family for us.

Kicking off Saturday’s toy drive will include a bouncy house set up at the church as well as face painting, mascot appearances, and free pizza and drinks for the kids. Marge in Charge will also make an appearance.

And while it’s still on the road, the family is working to raise funds to build the Cosey Community Center at the church, to benefit the children and the community.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community on behalf of Weston and sharing the love,” Allen said. “We couldn’t have put Weston aside if the community hadn’t helped us. Weston went to Harmony and loved Harmony. He planted a prayer cloth there for the community center.

Cosey’s parents are Heather Allen and Joe Cosey.

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