One local family, best known for serving up Cincinnati’s famous cheese coneys and 3-ways, is notorious around the hospital for bringing Trouble – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
The Fillios family, who own and operate Skyline Chili in Middletown, have delivered toys and games to Cincinnati Children’s every holiday season for nearly two decades. Owner and dad Nick Fillios said they were inspired to support the hospital after his own child’s experience.
“My son Andrew was in for outpatient surgery in December of 1997, and as we waited to take him home, I realized that a lot of the kids we were seeing would probably still be in the hospital for Christmas,” he said. “As wonderful a place that Cincinnati Children’s is, I thought it was a rotten way for a kid to celebrate Christmas. The idea just grew from there.”
Nick’s idea – to make a child’s hospital visit less scary and more pleasant by offering toys – is his family’s way of paying it forward. All year long they collect money in a Giving Hope jar kept near the register. When the jar fills up, they take their collection and buy toys in order to make a gift-in-kind donation.
“We have so much fun shopping and delivering the toys that we really enjoy every year,” Nick said, but one year in particular stands out. While making their annual delivery, the family was approached by a hospital employee who thanked them and asked if they brought the board game, Trouble. A patient requested the game, she told them, but Child Life could not find it anywhere at the hospital.
“It just so happens that Trouble was my favorite game as a child, and I happened to buy one that year. I will never forget the look on that lady’s face as we dug through the pile of toys and extracted the game,” Nick said.
Over the years the family’s efforts have become less like a fundraiser and more like a fun, feel-good community activity for the restaurant and its patrons. In addition to charitable contributions from customers, friends of the family and employees are eager to pitch in.
“My employees are always asking how close we are to breaking last year’s collections, and when we get close, they all start chipping in to make sure each year is better than the last,” Nick said.
To date, the Fillios family and their community of supporters have donated more than $40,000 worth of toys to the hospital. And every December, you can count on Nick to bring at least one game of Trouble.