The Marysville Toy Store provided hundreds of families in need with gifts last week during a year of increased need in the community.

The annual program provides holiday gifts for families who need support.

Because of the pandemic, this year the toy store was changed to a drive-thru service model.

"I think that this was an incredibly challenging year," said Christie Veley, one of the volunteer organizers of the event. "We had to rethink every aspect of the toy store."

Because of the expected high need this year, organizers wanted to push forward to hold the event.

"We wanted to still do it because it was important to our community," said Veley. "It was not without stressful moments, but I'm proud that we did it and made it through."

Last year the program served about 1,100 children and this year there were more than 2,000 kids registered. Not all registered families show up, so the final numbers are still being counted, but Veley said they were "definitely higher" than last year.

Veley said she enjoys the community of people who come out to help each year.

"My favorite part is working with the volunteers because there's always such a spirit of giving," she said.

Volunteers also said they are glad to come out to help.

"I think it's an amazing way to support families in need and what a better way to celebrate Christmas than to do this or something like this. That's why I'm here," said volunteer Linda Clark.

"I just wanted to help out. I've worked on a toy drive many years ago and I wanted to come out again to help," said volunteer Melissa Abelian.

Veley encourages people to get involved in community service if they want to support their community.

She said she also enjoys helping families which is why she supports the toy store each year.

"This morning I checked our Facebook Toy Store page and there was a 'thank you' note from a mother who said it meant so much in these uncertain times to have the help," said Veley.

Because of the number of lost jobs and high unemployment, Veley said organizers expected many families to come out.

"We know every year that there are families hurting, and uncertain if they can afford Christmas gifts," she said. "It's been a tough year for everyone."

Even the donations were falling behind this year.

"There was a time a few weeks ago I was worried," said Veley, because of registrations climbing fast and donations lagging behind.

"So many people in our community have stepped up to give," she said, and both business and individual donations helped the organization put on this year's toy store.

"Thank you to the volunteers and the community for the continued love you give to the program," said Veley.


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