Trucks for Maddox Begins Holiday Toy Drive Year After Toddler Was Fatally Mauled

Donations began Monday for the second Trucks for Maddox drive, a toy collection campaign named for the Whitehall toddler killed a year ago at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

In a brief statement, Maddox Derkosh’s parents said their son “would be so happy to know” that the holiday effort to benefit Christmas charities is growing.

“It is not possible to express our deep sense of loss one year after the death of the joy of our life, Maddox,” Elizabeth and Jason Derkosh said in the written statement, calling their son “thoughtful of others beyond his tender years.”

“He is in our thoughts and prayers every day,” they said.

Maddox was 2 on Nov. 4, 2012, when he slipped from his mother’s grasp and fell into an exhibit of African painted dogs at the zoo. He survived the 14-foot fall but not a mauling by 11 dogs, which the zoo later transferred to other organizations.

The Derkosh family asked mourners at the boy’s funeral to contribute toy trucks for distribution through Pittsburgh-area charitable groups. Their request drew more than 5,000 trucks from Western Pennsylvanians and contributors across the country.

The campaign is more formal this year, with drop-off boxes at more than two-dozen local organizations and businesses. Four organizations in the Philadelphia area will accept donations through the holiday season.

“Maddox loved to share, and loved construction trucks,” said Megan LeFebvre, a spokeswoman for the Trucks for Maddox nonprofit group led by the Derkoshes. “Liz and Jason saw an opportunity where they could help children in need while keeping Maddox’s memory alive through the charity.”

LeFebvre said the group hopes to collect at least 5,000 toy trucks. A list of drop-off locations, including all Pittsburgh fire stations, St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon and Shaler North Hills Library in Glenshaw, is posted at Drop-off bins will be available through Nov. 30, though donations are always welcome, LeFebvre said.

Charities slated to receive the contributions include Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and the Watson Institute, LeFebvre said.

The Derkoshes have brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the zoo, alleging zoo officials knew about dangers at the dog exhibit. The zoo is contesting the complaint.

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