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Manchester family honors late infant son with annual toy drive

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 10:15 PM CST
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MANCHESTER, Iowa (KCRG) - Baby Killian Archer, born Dec. 3, was the Rucker family’s early Christmas gift in 2018.

“He was relaxed most of the time,” Killian’s mom, Angelina, said. “He was happy. Probably the strongest baby I’ve ever met in my life.”

Before Killian was born, his family knew he had Down syndrome and heart defects. But, they didn’t know the extent.

“He never left the hospital,” Angelina said. “There were numerous times where we had moved back to the 10th floor and then planned on going home, and then something would happen, and we’d end up back in the ICU.”

After spending every day at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, Killian passed away in July of 2019, at seven-and-a-half months old.

When what would’ve been his first birthday came around in December last year, his family decided they wanted to do something to honor him, something positive. Angelina’s sister suggested a toy drive — the start of “Killian’s Christmas Toy Drive.”

“We were able to adopt seven families and get them all covered within just a couple weeks in December,” she said.

This year, “Killian’s Christmas Toy Drive” has grown, taking over an entire room in the Rucker family’s home in Manchester. More than 40 kids from 14 families in the Manchester area will have toys to open on Christmas Day — six per child, plus an extra gift for their parents — because of the toy drive.

Angelina said they may even be able to add a few more families to this year’s list because of how much support they’ve received.

“Christmas is a time where a lot of people are stressed about getting their own things or their own gifts for their families, so to have so many people that are willing to help, especially this year, and be so generous — it’s heartwarming, and it’s amazing,” Angelina said.

Even more so, Angelina said, because of the boy whose birthday it honors.

“Even though it was only seven-and-a-half months that we had with him, it was seven-and-a-half months that we wouldn’t change,” Angelina said. “It’s just nice to have your child remembered after something like that has happened.”

“Killian’s Christmas Toy Drive” is accepting donations through Dec. 15. Donors can purchase toys themselves, order them, or donate money for organizers to buy the toys.

To donate and see which remaining items on the list still need to be purchased, email Angelina Rucker at alytrice@gmail.com, or visit the Killian’s Christmas Toy Drive Facebook page.

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