New Albany teen finds joy in toy drive for kids

Teen-age girl standing in office full of colorful toys

Gwen Mouat doesn’t think too much about what she wants for Christmas. She’s more focused on what she can do for other children with her Toys for Tots gift drive. “I just really like to help people,” Gwen said.

The New Albany High School student first saw a toy collection box a few years ago while out shopping with her mom, Jennifer Mouat. “She kept wanting to go back and fill it up,” Mouat said. “She’s been on a mission ever since.”

This year, Gwen is partnering with the New Albany Police Department to host “Gwen’s Magical Toy Drive” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 3 at New Albany City Hall. Police will be collecting unwrapped toys for kids of all ages. A second drive is set for Dec. 10 at Court Grill in Mouat’s hometown of Pomeroy, Ohio.

Working hard for a cause is part of life for Mouat and her daughter. Gwen was born with a rare, inherited condition called propionic acidemia that prevents the body from breaking down certain parts of proteins and fats. Toxins build up, causing life-threatening illness and metabolic crises.

As a young child, Gwen was hospitalized more than 50 times. She still receives most of her nutrition though a G-tube. “It’s a pretty terrible disorder,” Mouat said.

She and Gwen do all they can to raise money for the Propionic Acidemia Foundation to support research, better treatments, awareness and help for families. Mouat’s original goal was to contribute at least $10,000; they’re now approaching $500,000.

Gwen has lofty goals for her holiday charity work, too. Instead of a trip or gift for herself from A Special Wish Foundation, “I asked for a Toys for Tots shopping spree,” she said.

To learn more, go to and click on ‘Events’ or follow @gwenstoydrive on Instagram.