PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - The Sassy Massey Toy Drive is continuing after the death of the girl who started it.
In donated space in a Folcroft, Delaware County warehouse, the 'Sassy Massey' team of volunteers sorts through a mountain of newly arrived gifts sent by big-hearted strangers to kids they don't know and will never meet.
The man in charge-- Dan Emmerson-- couldn't be more proud.
"It's amazing to see what's happened, the last few weeks," Emmerson said. “Looking at these boxes now, I feel like it's Jillian smiling back on every one of the boxes."
Last Christmas, then 4-year-old Jillian Massey of Coopersburg, Lehigh County, was battling brain cancer and wanted to donate 100 toys to fellow patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s oncology wing.
In a year’s time, that effort has blossomed into a national drive likely to bring more than 10,000 gifts to sick children at CHOP, A.I. DuPont hospital in Delaware and several other children's medical facilities in the region.
5-year-old Jillian lost her fight with cancer on Monday. Emmerson, who is a family friend, considered canceling the drive and quietly donating what had already been sent.
"Jillian's mom, Janelle, put us on the right track and said, 'You better make it even larger,' so I feel like this is a really good-- almost-- distraction in a good way. Gives us a mission."
On December 18, the toys will be delivered with a police escort that will include helicopters, motorcycles, mounted police and K9s.
"The toys will be delivered by Santa's helpers and they're all police officers," says toy escort coordinator Jimmy Binns. “The elves are all in uniform."
The Sassy Massey website and coordination from Amazon has helped generate donations from all over America and several foreign countries.
Many donors included notes with their toys. "May a child enjoy this gift,” read one note. “Thank you for all the inspiration."
FOX 's Bruce Gordon asked Emmerson about continuing this work without the little girl behind it.
"It makes it extra special,” he said, “But tougher."
Tougher, but bearable, thanks to the knowledge that the generosity of the child's spirit carries on.
"The goal was always to make other children have smiles, but I think it's just as much if not more affecting people that are donating,” Emmerson said.
If you wish to donate, please click here.