It’s the day after Christmas and I’m thrilled to tell you a little bit about the Christmas morning that you helped to make possible for the children of the Exeter Area Food Pantry.
Several years ago, Pastor Scott Staub had a dream that this community could hold a Toy Drive for it’s children. His idea started off small at Schwarzwald Lutheran Church. Now in it’s third year, it has become the community effort that it was always meant to be. We, at Schwarzwald, are proud to take the lead in this effort and we are so thankful that you have decided to be a part of the cause. We could never hold a Toy Give like the one we just completed without your help and support.
This year the following churches participated in the Toy Drive: Schwarzwald Lutheran Church, Reformation Lutheran Church, Schwarzwald UCC, St. Lawrence UCC, Northstar UMC, and Bethany Lutheran Church. We are especially thankful to Reformation Lutheran Church for allowing us to use their beautiful building for the Toy Give.
We received financial support from Thrivent Financial and Tompkin’s VIST Bank. Wood-to-Wonderful provided their lovely handmade, wooden toys. The Arbor Inn, Effie’s Charcoal Chef and Jake’s of Mt. Penn provided collection sites, funding and cooking assistance. Boscov’s Travel, A Perfect Secretary, Exeter Veterinary Hospital, Five Below, St. Lawrence Women’s Club, Rotary of Mt. Penn/Exeter, Exeter Lions Club, the Exeter Girls Scouts and the Exeter Food Pantry collected toys, bought toys and provided many hardworking volunteers. Team Mimi did an amazing job of purchasing, packing and distributing new books and even had a huge collection of gently used books for the parents to select from.
It would be impossible to properly thank all the members of the community that purchased toys to fill our collection boxes! We were overwhelmed by the generosity of all involved. There was absolutely no problem getting volunteers for this event! We had the hardest working, most joy-filled volunteers ever! Would you believe that I never had to ask for help with this project? The volunteers found me! We had set up help, truck drivers, bakers, food servers, toy sorters, personal shoppers, tireless gift wrappers, friendly faces… AND…we even had a full crew at clean up time!
On the day of the Toy Give, we had 1,593 beautiful toys! This included over 200 plush and 200 handmade, wooden toys. We had 320 hats, scarves, gloves, and socks. Many of the hats and scarves were handmade. Team Mimi provided 500 new books and several hundred gently, used books. We were able to offer each child in every family one large toy, one small toy, one plush toy, one wooden toy, a game or puzzle, two new books, one knit item, used books and an item from the art table. We served 215 children! In addition, we provided a Christmas lunch of barbecue, hotdogs, vegetables, ring bologna and cheese, cookies, cup cakes and beverages to over 150 people.
The parents were very grateful and shared their thanks freely. We heard stories of disability, lost jobs, housing complications, sick children and even lost spouses. Most of the parents were relieved to have been invited to the event, expressing that they had no idea how they would have provided Christmas for their children without the Toy Give!