Johnny Enlow, Elkin Baptist Association director in 2000, knew about a program that the South Yadkin Association had been doing called the “Toy Store.” This program provided more than a service to help parents and grandparents afford a happy Christmas for the children in their care in spite of financial constraints.
It also was “an opportunity to share the gospel,” according to Susan Morrison, who is one of the chief coordinators.
Participants are referred through schools, food banks, churches, doctors’ offices, Our Father’s House and The Ark. After receiving the referral, Lisa Green, secretary for the program, then sends a letter to the potential participants who then must contact the “Toy Store” to make an appointment.
Parents and grandparents who are caring for young children come in at their appointed time to shop among items purchased through contributions as well as toys, sports equipment and other things donated to the Toy Store.
“The toys are priced at 10 cents on the dollar,” according to Morrison, “but sometimes they shop for free.”
“We don’t turn anyone away,” agreed Sandra Smith, fellow coordinator, though they believe that by purchasing the toys at a discounted rate the families are better served.
Items are organized according to age appropriateness and gender to make shopping easier. Volunteers are available to assist in making suitable choices, however the “Toy Store” “is just the beginning,” said Smith.
“Our main goal is to spread the gospel of Christ,” explained Morrison.
Morrison went on to say, “After they shop, they talk to a pastor or a person with the Elkin Baptist Association. We want to help the children and families, but if they change their ways…”
“It’s a better gift for the children,” continued Smith.
The Baptist Association Toy Store serves parts of Surry, Yadkin and Wilkes counties complementing similar programs such as a larger one in Wilkesboro and other large towns. The first year 160 children from infants through 15 years of age were served in 73 families representing nine “professions of faith.” Last year, 449 children were aided in 142 families of 34 religious denominations from $21,823 total in donations.
According to Smith, “Through the years it has fluctuated with bigger families,” explaining that there seems to be more children within one household due to the blending of families.
When the Baptist Association of Elkin began the Toy Store 17 years ago, it was open for a day and a half. In recent years, it has increased to four days, however this year it will be open for only three days due to increased efficiency.
Donations of dolls, games, balls, trucks, baby toys, children’s books, jewelry, tea sets, strollers, bikes, helmets, tricycles, wagons, back packs, make-up kits, camping equipment and other items as well as monetary gifts are still being accepted. Guidelines and other information can be found at evbcfamily.org/resources/toy-store or by calling 336-835-3808.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.