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Payton Foundation toy drive continues Walter's legacy

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The Bears on Sunday will hold the 14th annual Walter & Connie Payton Foundation Toy Drive when they host the New York Giants at Soldier Field.

Fans attending the game are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate at one of four locations at the stadium between 9 a.m.-noon. Toy drop-off boxes will be located outside of the stadium at Gate 47 near McFetridge Drive, the pedestrian walkway off McFetridge Drive by the Children's Garden, Gate 38 and under the Waldron Drive tunnel just south of Gate 0.

"It's special because it truly helps us take care of a lot of the kids that are in need and that look forward to getting new toys at Christmastime," Connie Payton said. "That's why the Bears toy drive is always important. My family and I also enjoy being out there among all of the fans. To see them get excited about helping us and giving back, that's a good feeling I think for all of us, for them and for us that we're all in it together just trying to make a difference."

Fans can also make monetary donations at Gate 45, by the Walter Payton Statue and at the pedestrian walkway off McFetridge Drive by the Children's Garden. Toys collected during the toy drive will be donated to the Department of Children and Family Services.  

Walter Payton spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears, missing only one game and retiring following the 1987 season as the league's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards. He was voted to nine Pro Bowls, set 16 NFL records and 27 Bears marks and had his No. 34 retired. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

The toy drives are a continuation of the events that Payton held for area kids at some of his local restaurants during the Christmas season.

"We feel that it makes a difference, plus it's something that we truly want to do and we're doing what Walter really truly loved to do," Connie said. "He enjoyed the parties and being with the kids and watching their faces. Just the fact that we're continuing his legacy and doing what I believe today he would still be doing, it's just a blessing for my family and me."

For more information about the toy drive, please visit payton34.com.

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