Parents in need from Edmonds and nearby areas will be able to provide gifts for their children this holiday season, thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers who contributed to the annual Top Shop event Saturday morning at Edmonds United Methodist Church.
Church volunteer Pamela Frank, who along with Jenn Hendrix coordinated this year’s event, showed My Edmonds News around the church social hall and meeting rooms filled with long tables that were stacked with toys and games, plus an area filled with new or refurbished bicycles of various sizes and colors.
Friendly volunteers in Santa hats provided each parent with a shopping cart and guided them through the process of choosing age-appropriate books — many of which were donated by Half Price Books, plus stuffed animals for the younger children and the choice of one new and one “gently used” gift per child. In addition, families could select new DVDs of popular movies plus wrapping paper and Christmas decorations to take home with them. Edmonds-Woodway High School students supplied candy canes for each family, inscribed with inspirational messages in English, Spanish and Russian — the top three languages spoken by families, Frank said. Once the choices were made, members of Edmonds Boy Scout Troop 312 helped parents take the full baskets out to their cars.
Frank recalled her own childhood, when her father was very ill and her mother struggled to make ends meet. The family had volunteers stop by the house with pre-wrapped Christmas gifts, and while the generosity was appreciated, it felt a little odd to know that strangers were choosing the gifts. “My favorite part about this event is that parents get to come in and make a choice, then take the presents home and wrap them,” Frank said.
While Frank and Hendrix first volunteered to coordinate the Toy Shop last summer, the work began in earnest six weeks ago, and has been a whirlwind of organizing toy drives and coordinating donations and volunteer help from service organizations such as the Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts and many others. “We are just a little piece in the quilt,” Frank said modestly of their work on the Toy Shop. “There are so many volunteers who help.”
This year’s Toy Shop served 1,200 families, Frank said, and any leftover toys will be donated to the Holly House, a local organization that provides Christmas gifts for children in need in Edmonds and Lynnwood.