The annual Edmonds Toy Shop event is well-rehearsed and finely tuned after 30 years of helping families in need. On Saturday, the Edmonds United Methodist Church, in partnership with Edmonds Food Bank, threw open its doors again to welcome 320 families into the Toy Shop. Pamela Frank, the Toy Shop Director, estimates of those families, 85% signed up through the Edmonds Food Bank, and the remaining 15% came from the Washington Kids In Transition program.
Frank and her team of volunteers filled their roles with a spirit of giving that rivals the real Santa Claus and his elves. Providing families a supportive community and showing them respect and kindness was part of the fundamental goals for this event. “This event gives the parents hope because they can see that these volunteers care for them,” Frank said. “It also helps to preserve the magic of Christmas for the children. The parents get to experience the joy of giving with dignity. “
After checking in, the families warmed up with fresh baked cookies provided by Girl Scout Troop 45244 in the hospitality room. Edmond’s Methodist Youth Group members stayed on hand to keep the room well-stocked and to ensure the families’ needs were attended to as they waited for their turn to start shopping.
Once inside, the families visited the Toy Shop’s Book Room. With 5,000 books donated this year, Book lead Laura Bernatek had her hands wonderfully full. New books in hand, each family next was paired with their very own personal shopper, who served as a guide through the rest of the experience. During the volunteer orientation, the personal shoppers were kindly reminded to focus on the family they were serving, to take their time, and to let the parents enjoy the experience.
The newly formed team jumped straight into the fun stuff at one of the most anticipated stops of the day, the bike room. This year there were 85 bikes of all shapes, sizes and colors to pick from. Before moving on, every family also received a box (or three) of Play-Doh from the two full pallets that Seattle Children’s Hospital donated. There was no shortage of Play-Doh this year.
As families entered the main shopping floor, BSA Troop 312 had shopping carts lined up and ready to go. Parents could select the perfect gift for their child from overflowing tables of presents. For those harder-to-shop-for teens, The Toy Shop tried something new this year, gift cards. Frank hopes this will let the teens receive something that genuinely makes them smile.
Before they were finished, the families had one last stop at the holiday decorations area, where they could choose gift wrapping, bows, holiday cards and decorations to ensure a festive Christmas for all. Finally, with all their goodies tucked safely in their carts, the families were given a candy cane and a warm sendoff by members of BSA Scout Troop 312, who helped them to their cars and loaded their bounty for them.
The Edmonds Toy Shop is made possible by community donors. Frank emphasizes that both the Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary and The Alderwood Terrace Rotary are the backbone of this event with their generous donations each year. Other donors included Seattle Children’s Hospital, Boy Scout Troop 312, Cub Scout Troop 300 (which lead a toy drive), Girl Scout Troop 45244, Toys For Tots, and Girl Scout Troop 44556, which provided volunteers with breakfast and snacks during the day. Many other donations came from individuals in the Edmonds community and of course, the Edmonds Methodist Church itself.
— Story and photos by Judy Hendrix