Community members dropped off gifts on Sept. 18 at a toy drive started by a Marysville man who recently lost three of his children.
Erik Denton lost his children earlier this year and held the event at the Grove Church, which is close to his childhood home.
“We’re all still grieving and we’re all still at the beginning stages even though it’s been five months,” said Tracy Jellison, Denton’s mother.
The three young children were found dead in April when they were living in southern California. Their mother admitted to the killings in an interview with KGET 17 News shortly thereafter.
Denton and the children's mother had been in a custody battle at the time, and Jellison said they were worried about her mental health.
“The concern was also to get her a full mental health evaluation,” said Jellison.
The mother recently had mental health issues, including postpartum psychosis, which is common for women who have recently delivered a baby.
Experts at Action on Postpartum Psychosis say that the majority of people recover from the disorder without a violent incident and help is available from Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4773.
In response to the tragedy, rather than organize a traditional memorial, Denton wanted to do something for the community.
“When we found out that the kids were lost, we asked Erik if there would be a funeral or memorial service and the first thing he said was that he wanted to have a toy drive,” said Traci Miller, Denton’s cousin.
“He didn’t want to spend money on flowers for a funeral and all that, he really just wanted to give back to other children,” said Jellison.
Denton encouraged community members to donate toys for young children.
“He picked children 0 to 5, because his children were five months, 2 years and 3 years,” said Jellison.
Family and close family friends, including many cousins and multiple aunts and uncles from all around the state, came out during the toy drive to volunteer and help.
“This is just a way we can help him out. If he wants to do that, we think this is a great charity to donate to,” said Jellison.
Cars were stopping by the Grove Church to give donations to the toy drive.
“It’s going really well. Better than we expected. We have a ton of stuff to box up already,” said Miller. “People have brought a lot of toys per car."
Toys collected during the event are being donated to the Marysville Community Food Bank’s Marysville Toy Store program that is held each holiday season.
The program provides free gifts to families-in-need every year.
Denton’s family has a lot of roots in the community and have lived in the city for more than 60 years, which is why he wanted to support the Marysville program.
“This is really home for him and their plan for the kids was the move back to Washington,” said Miller. “So it was important for him to have the toy drive and the memorial here."
Many businesses also helped support the event, including Unique Interiors, Abbey Van Dam Carpet and More, and Hilton & Company, among others, said Jellison, who added she was thankful to all of them and other locals.
“I just want to thank the community for their show of support and showing my son that they do care,” she said.