ToyZone and Gifts for Moms Brighten The Holiday
Last week, Gabriela Marquez, a young mom of two children, walked into ToyZone. As her eyes fell on racks of warm winter coats, and rows of brand-new toys available to purchase at a steep discount, she broke down and cried. She made her way through the room with the help of a dedicated volunteer, carefully selecting items for each of her children.
As she was leaving, she tearfully asked the shift volunteers to tell whoever came up with the concept, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to buy Christmas gifts for my daughter.”
ToyZone is Chase Oaks’ annual holiday pop-up “store” which supports local children from Mendenhall, Rountree, Terrace, and Rasor Elementary schools, as well as families from Family Promise and Agape Resource Center. The store is stocked by donations which enable parents to shop for their children’s Christmas gifts at a very discounted price, bringing dignity back to charity. Every child also receives a winter coat.
Bikes, Bread, and More
This year, despite the pandemic, donors rallied to provide toys which would top any child’s wish list: bicycles, scooters, skateboards, LEGOs, and more. One bike club friend of a Chase Oaker organized a ride to collect items for ToyZone. Other generous donations came from a local chapter of LEAD, a nonprofit organization run by another Chase Oaker, and a financial services company through their local outreach program. Still more came from countless Chase Oaks families and community members.
And sixteen-year-old Hannah Atunez held her third annual pumpkin bread fundraiser for ToyZone. Hannah has enjoyed helping others year-round since she was very young but has a special love for ToyZone. Three years ago, she received several requests from close friends to purchase pumpkin bread made with her great grandma’s family recipe. Seeing an opportunity to give to others, Hannah sold a number of loaves and used all of the proceeds to buy items for ToyZone. Last year, her bake sale raised over $500 for ToyZone. This year, her father’s business matched the bake sale proceeds, doubling her impact to over $1000 worth of toys for ToyZone.
Along with the generosity of the community, ToyZone relies on the hard work of numerous volunteers. Despite the pandemic, over 150 people showed up to give their time and efforts to make this year’s store a success.
One person came to volunteer and the mom he was helping recognized him from last year. She shared that at that time, she had been going through some hard things, and he had prayed with her. Those prayers had been answered. What are the chances that they would be scheduled (him to volunteer and her to shop) on the same day again?
In total, 228 families representing 365 children were served through ToyZone at its primary and Woodbridge Campus locations. Chase Oaks was also able to share the love with a number of community partners.
Partner schools receivedsports balls for their gymboard games for their libraryart suppliestrinkets for teachers to use in their classroom prize boxes
Woodbridge shared its surplus toys with Cox Elementary School, 5 Loaves, and the City of Sachse Police Department.
Gifts for Moms
All remaining toys and coats went to Chase Oaks’ Gifts for Moms, which seeks to care for and support single moms. Traditionally, the event is fun evening designed to lavish care on hardworking single moms. This year, the planners wondered what it would be like without the typical red carpet, valet parking, childcare, talent shows and testimonies, and toy shopping for children.
But God knew. He knew that in the middle of a pandemic, single moms would need caring intentionality: a warm smile from someone handling the car line; a “Merry Christmas” sign held up with joy; gifts given with love by other women who care; and a meal for them and their children too. As the guests drove through the event, they also received a bag of toys for their children and a special craft to make for their tree.
Around the corner, each car was greeted with the question, “How can I pray for you?” Guests shared about their hurt and heavy burdens, but each left the event in smiles. Who knew a drive-through a parking lot could be filled with so much love?
Thanks to the generosity and commitment of donors and volunteers, ToyZone and Gifts for Moms have made a difference to hundreds of families this Christmas season.
For more ways to make a difference, consider giving, or serving with a Partner Team or the Local Good Center.