Toy Store helps Santa, parents at Christmas

MARYSVILLE – Dominique Valentine of Marysville was pregnant when she went to the Toy Store last year.

This year, on Wednesday, she took her 7-month-old boy with her.

The Toy Store, put on by the city and food bank with the help of dozens and dozens of donators, also will take place Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. About 1,500 families in need are expected to be served. Shoppers got in on a raffle for bicycles and other large prizes.

Valentine said the help is appreciated as she stays home with the baby while her boyfriend works. There are also two girls, ages 9 and 6.

Valentine said each of the kids gets to pick out three things: something to wear, something they need and something they want. The parents buy those things, and what they get from the Toy Store helps out Santa.

Volunteer David Hodgson helped Valentine with her shopping. “It’s fun helping folks who need help enjoy the holidays,” he said.

He guided Valentine to different tables where gifts were available to pick out for the ages of her kids. She got a fire truck and a Seahawks knit hat for her son and volunteer Katie Gilbertson helped her pick out a warm coat for her oldest, who is a fan of Wonderwoman. She picked up something for her daughter, who wants to be a marine biologist or scientist. Valentine also picked out a Power Ranger costume for Halloween next year.

Valentine estimated she left with items that would have cost $200 or more.

“They don’t leave here with a glut of stuff,” volunteer Tom Meeghan of Kiwanis said. “But it helps their Christmas.”

Whatever people save by going to the Toy Store can go to more-basic needs like food, utilities and shelter, organizers say.

Many stores in the community donated items to the cause. Different organizations had their own food and/or toy drives. Others donated money so shoppers could go out and buy discounted items to make it stretch further.

Jodi Condyles, a volunteer in the coat department, said Zummies donated a bunch of coats. Still, 900 were donated, and 1,300 were needed. So each family again was limited to one coat.

Because of construction going on at The Grove Church, not as much was on display. But Condyles said more items were donated, they were just in storage. “It’s smaller, but the love’s still here,” she said.

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