Hundreds of families in need received gifts for the holiday season at this year’s Marysville Toy Store program.
The annual program provides free gifts, books and coats to local families who need a little extra support for their holidays.
It was held Dec. 12 and 13 this year.
The event has been going on every December for more than two decades and had small beginnings.
“There was a city employee who also volunteered at the food bank and noticed that a lot of families didn’t have anything for the holidays,” said Tara Mizell, one of the main organizers of the Marysville Toy Store.
“She started literally out of the trunk of her car and would work through the year to find bargains,” she said.
Since then the event has grown and served between 1,000 to 1,300 families each of the last few years.
“I think it’s really awesome that these guys are helping me out because money-wise I couldn’t afford these gifts with my bills,” said Marina Ordonez, one of the clients at this year’s toy store.
Although the final numbers aren’t in yet, it appears that the number of families attending the Toy Store is down this year, said Mizell.
“At the Marysville food bank this Thanksgiving our numbers actually went down, and that’s the first time I can remember that happening. So hopefully with the economy getting better people are in a better place where they don’t need services,” said Mizell, who is also a frequent food bank volunteer.
Toy donations for the program were lagging a bit this year at the start of the season, but Mizell said that they did receive sufficient donations eventually.
“We put out the call about three weeks ago because we were at a third of what we needed and the community has really stepped up,” she said.
“It’s so heartwarming to see what’s happened in the last few weeks,” she said.
A partnership between the Marysville School District, Pepsi and the Providence Intervention Center also provided the Marysville Toy Store with hundreds of coats.
“We’ve always had this goal of having a coat for every kid and this is the first year we’ll be able to provide a coat for every kid,” said Christie Veley, one of the volunteers at the Marysville Toy Store.
Volunteer Jodi Condyles, who has run the coat section of the toy store in recent years, said she was very happy with the number of coats brought in this year.
“The last few years I’ve been appointed ‘the coat lady’ and the most difficult part of that position is when a family comes in and they have more than one child and you have to, in the most gracious way, say ‘which one needs it?’” she said.
“It’s important to me to be able to say ‘everybody gets a coat.’”
Numerous local organizations helped to make the event happen, said Mizell.
The Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce’s holiday auction brought in a big donation this year.
“People kept raising the donation and I was speechless, which takes a lot for me,” she said.
This is the third year that the Grove Church has hosted the event.
“We’ve never had a location, so every year that is the most stressful thing,” said Mizell. “We had years where there was no heat and it was only port-o-potties."
There were also 160 volunteers this year who helped stock shelves and guided clients through the store to select their toys.
“We’re thankful for all the restaurants that support us in town so we can provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the volunteers,” said Mizell.
Mizell wanted to thank all of those who continue to support the program each year.
“There’s so many people that want to make sure there’s love and light in everybody’s homes,” she said.