FAIRMONT — The Marion County Christmas Toy Shop is ready for another year helping kids after learning from the successes of last year.
The Toy Shop organizers and volunteers met at the school board central office Wednesday to discuss goals for the coming months, and cement their plans for distributing this year’s toys.
“It looks like we’re going to have really good turnout this year,” said Butch Tennant, director of the shop. “We’ve got a lot of involvement from the schools and the volunteers.”
Leading the meeting was Chad Norman, an administrative assistant for the school board and a volunteer for the Toy Shop. In attendance were over 20 individuals from the community and the schools.
This year, the Toy Shop will operate the same as it did in 2020. Every student in the county will receive a Toy Shop registration form to take home. Students who lose their form or students who are home-schooled can get a form from the school board central office.
Forms will be given out in the coming weeks and will be due back by Nov. 12. The Toy Shop pick-up event will be held Saturday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. at the Marion County Election Center. Any child aged 13 and under can qualify for the event.
Last year, the Toy Shop was held using a drive-thru format, where families would pull through a line and pick up the toys they requested on their child’s form. Tennant said last year’s event worked as planned, so he’s sure this year will be even better.
“Last year was great. Matter of fact I think it’s the best way we’ve ever done it,” Tennant said.
The Toy Shop helped 775 children and surpassed their goal of $17,000 by raising over $20,000 last year. Now, organizers are setting the goal at $20,000.
“We did twenty [thousand] last year, so I’d love to do twenty [thousand] again this year,” Tennant said. “No sense going backwards.”
Marion County School Board member James Saunders, who has volunteered with the Toy Shop since its inception, said he remembers being that needy child when he was growing up.
He said he remembers his family being unable to afford gifts for Christmas, so he and his siblings would wrap their own toys in newspaper and give them to each other to open.
He later remembered a family who would stop by before Christmas each year and give him and his siblings gifts.
These memories stuck with Saunders, especially once the Toy Shop came up with the slogan, “every child deserves a good Christmas.”
“Every kid should wake up on Christmas morning ... and have a new gift they can open up and know it came from someone who loved them,” Saunders said. “I think that’s what it means to all of us.”
There are several ways the community can help with the Toy Shop this year. The most direct way is purchasing and donating a new toy to be given as a gift this year. Toy donations can be dropped off at any school or directly to the central office.
Monetary donations are also being accepted. For more information, call Butch Tennant at 304-203-8385.
The Marion County Family Resource Network is selling custom Christmas balls for donations to the Toy Shop of $5 or more. Contact them at 304-366-4445.
The Toy Shop is also looking for volunteers to sort the toys, or to work during the giveaway in November. For more information about volunteering, call Sharon Burrows at 304-657-6853.
“I think this event shows the pride that the community has and the care and respect Marion County has,” Norman said. “We want to make sure every child has a nice Christmas, every child deserves that.”