A mischievous smile crossed Kevin Tinneny's face as he stepped through a forest of towering cartoon characters and the tangle of wires covering the front lawn of his Cherry Hill home.

Nearby, animated figures of Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves prepared for the big night. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles moved with the beat of music blaring from speakers: "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

"It's Christmas," Tinneny said. "You have to smile when you see this. . . . You're a kid forever."

Hundreds of people come from miles around to take in Kevin and Maureen Tinneny's Christmas wonderland, to stare at inflated Disney figures, trains, reindeer, snowmen - and thousands of lights.

But this holiday display is different from many others because of its mission.

Along the curb is a birdhouse that doubles as a donation box and a neatly lettered sign that reads: "Help the Kids. All Donations Go to the Hemophilia Fund of Children's Hospital Phila."

Over the last 14 years, the Tinnenys have collected more than $10,000, which the hospital has used to help patients and their families.

"Putting this up takes a lot of hours, but everybody loves it," said Kevin Tinneny, 61, who laid out the display this year despite an Oct. 30 heart attack. He had help from a nephew, future son-in-law and neighborhood boys.

Kevin "is crazy about Christmas," added Maureen Tinneny, 56, who retrieves the decorations each year from the crawl space under the house. "If he didn't put this up, he'd have another heart attack."

Visitors linger along Elkins Road while they and their mesmerized children stare from car windows.

Australian tourists once knocked on the Tinnenys' door about midnight - after the lights had been turned off for the evening - and asked for a special showing and a photograph with Kevin Tinneny.

"It was really neat. They wanted to show their friends in Australia what we do here," said the former construction worker and part-time employee of a Pennsauken funeral home who is now on disability.

The Tinnenys began the effort in 1994 as a way to honor the memory of a nephew, Anthony Perrucci of Ardmore, who died in 1993 at 16 after contracting HIV from blood he received through a transfusion as a toddler.

The hospital has used the money collected by the Tinnenys to help patients and their families. It assisted a mother who couldn't afford the parking-lot fees during her son's extended stay, and it paid for a child's leg brace.

Some donations are small. This month, one child left a stack of 35 pennies on the porch. Parents leave $5, $10 and $20 bills in the donation box.

"I do it because I want children to give to other kids, to get a sense of doing something for somebody else," Kevin Tinneny said. "I do it for the good it will do the kids and the hospital."

Tinneny is constantly minding the display, checking wires and connections, making sure all of the figures are lit, inflated or moving.

"It's a wonderful thing," said Frank Perrucci, 65, the father of Anthony Perrucci and brother of Maureen Tinneny. "It carries on my son's name."

Perrucci is part owner of a marine-fuel concession in Naples, Fla., where he lives. Though he doesn't see the display every year, he sends candles and reindeer figures made of palm-tree branches as gifts for some donors.

Mike Books, 42, of Cherry Hill, who drove by last week with his 5-year-old daughter, Brynn, comes out every year. "We were over the other night and made a donation."

Another car stopped. "It's really crazy, awesome," said 21-year-old Mei Kadava, who was with her sisters, J.M., 18, and Mary, 20, all of Mount Royal, Gloucester County.

Some people come by foot. Mary Jane Bastedo, 62, of Cherry Hill, wanted to show the display to her granddaughter, 3-year-old Kaitlyn Johnson.

"I think it's beautiful," Bastedo said. "He does this for Children's Hospital, and a lot of work goes into it. We look forward to it every year."

Tinneny's neighbors also enjoy the display. It's become a tradition for them.

"I've been here four years, and I love it," said Lisa Testa, 41. "I used to come here when I lived in Barclay Farms to see it. I told them to keep going across my yard" with the decorations.

Ida Tozzi, who lives on the other side, said she's especially impressed by the effort to help Children's Hospital. "I think it's wonderful," she said.

On Christmas Eve, "you can't get anywhere near this place," said Kevin Tinneny. "It's really busy. The closer we get to Christmas, the busier it gets."

Not everyone is filled with Christmas cheer, though. "You want to bring out the best in people, but somebody stole my [inflatable] Grinch" this month, Kevin Tinneny said. "They really steal from the kids that way. It makes me mad."

The yard in front of the Tinnenys' split-level house doesn't seem any emptier. Some of the figures are 12 feet high - and look as if they would be at home in a parade of floats.

"It looks great," said Kevin.

"He's just a big kid," said Maureen, a Camden elementary school teacher. "No, he's worse than a kid."

Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or ecolimore@phillynews.com.