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Kiwanis ‘elves’ continue Toy Shop tradition

By Staff | Dec 12, 2018

Toys lined the tables at the Kiwanis Toy Shop, an opportunity for less fortunate families to "shop" for their children's Christmas. Photo by Toni Milbourne.

CHARLES TOWN — Despite forecasts of a better economy and more jobs, the list of those who will have no Christmas without the assistance of other people around them continues to grow.

Thankfully, many community members are willing to go the extra mile to bring a smile to the face of others. The Kiwanis Club of Charles Town, carrying on a years-long tradition of giving, reached out to help over 100 children within 42 families with during their annual Toy Shop.

Kiwanis “elves” scour shops, some of them all year-long, for just the right toys and gifts for children up to age 13. The items are then made available at their “Toy Shop,” located this year at Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town.

Families are selected to participate via Jefferson County Community Ministries, and when the family members come to “shop,” each child receives three gifts plus stocking stuffers. A “family gift” concept was instituted a few years ago, where families can select an item that is used by or for the entire family. These gifts often come in the form of needed kitchen items such as a toaster, a coffee maker or the like.

Debra and Rob Payne, coordinating volunteers of the project, said families complete an application process in November, and when selected, the family members shop during scheduled times.

What is unique about the program, is that the families shopping in the final hours of the event find nearly the same thing on the tables as those who were scheduled to shop first. It is not a case of the early bird gets the best gift – the same gifts are available for all.

For 38 years, members of the Kiwanis have divided the task of shopping.

“We buy year-round,” Debra said. “Little kids are the easiest,” she laughed. “Those who are in the 9-12 range are harder because every year there is something new.”

Members of the Kiwanis Club are assigned ages to shop for and sent on their way with money to spend.

“The average we try to spend is $50-$60 per child,” Rob said. “We have to be careful, too, that we buy what they can use. It does no good to have a Blue Tooth when the child doesn’t have a phone.”

For youth over age 13, Debra said she and Rob take care of their shopping.

The Charles Town Kiwanis Club welcome any who believe in their Toy Shop mission and would like to donate to the program. Toys and/or monetary donations are welcome at any point throughout the year. Any new, unwrapped toys can be donated toward next year’s Toy Shop venture, by dropping them off after the holidays to Debra Payne at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town.

For more information, email questions to dpayne@k2.wv.us.