The following story appeared in the November 18 Idaho Catholic Register.
For the last eight years, St. Vincent de Paul has opened a Christmas toy store at several locations to families who cannot afford to purchase Christmas gifts for their children. The store is unique because parents who pre-register by calling 208-593-3920 can handpick their gift and wrap it for their children.
“We believe every child should be able to celebrate the joy of Christmas,” said Johnny Hiller, engagement coordinator for St. Vincent dePaul of Southwest Idaho.
Gifts are available for children up to age 18, Hiller said. Last year, the toy store provided gifts to 4,411 children in the Treasure Valley. “We also like the fact that those who donate to our stores know that their gifts or financial contributions stay local,” he said.
The Ada County store at 2140 S. Broadway Ave. in Boise and the Canyon County store at 3201 Ridgecrest Drive in Nampa will open on Monday, Nov. 28 through Saturday, Dec. 17.
In addition, there are two temporary or “pop-up stores” that will be opened in Mountain Home at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 and in Ontario at St. Peter’s Catholic School from Dec. 8 through Dec. 10.
St. Vincent dePaul is planning a toy store kick-off party on Monday, Nov. 28 at 6 pm at the Ada County store. The celebration will include free coffee and hot chocolate provided by Human Bean and Domino’s Pizza. Members of the Bishop Kelly High
School Choir will be on hand to sing Christmas carols. Those who attend are asked to bring a toy or gift or make a financial contribution to the toy store program.
“This wonderful program could not succeed without the generosity of countless Idahoans,” Hiller said. Those who want to help can donate toys or other gifts. “We ask that the gift be new, unopened, and in original packaging,” Hiller said. They do not need to be gift-wrapped. The suggested price range is between $10 and $50.
Volunteers are also needed to answer incoming calls and make reservations for parents to come in to shop for Christmas gifts for their children. This can be done remotely from the volunteer’s home.
On-site volunteers are also needed to assist pre-registered shoppers with check-in and check-out, stocking shelves, and picking out gifts.
One of the 2021 Christmas toy store shoppers wrote St. Vincent dePaul, writing that she gets “so anxious during the holidays. I try my hardest with four kids, but I worry about my ability to provide even a small gift to each of them, and my son’s birthday falls on Christmas Day. I was so excited and relieved once I registered to shop and pick out presents for each kid.” She said she was able to find a skateboard for her son.
In lieu of a physical toy or gift donation, people are invited to contribute financially to the toy store. Donations go directly to purchasing gifts and toys.
For more information, including volunteer opportunities, drop-off locations, and financial donations, go to svdpid.org/christmas-toy-store/
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