‘Toy store’ helps families in need

Published 10:03 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2019

In the Salvation Army gym filled with toys, Marquetta Murray had no trouble finding things that matched the interests of her three daughters.

Murray was at the Bank Street “toy store” Wednesday to pick out gifts for her twin 8-year-olds, Maliyah and Makayla, and her 4-year-old, Kamiya, as part of a program to provide toys to give to Suffolk families in need during the Christmas season. The “toy store” opened Monday, and volunteers will help parents and guardians choose toys through Thursday.

“It means a lot,” Murray said. “It helps for those in need. As a single parent, it’s hard trying to be able to afford a good Christmas for your children, so having something like this is really helpful.”

Email newsletter signup

Families sign up and are reviewed ahead of time, and parents and guardians receive appointments to visit the gym the week before Christmas to pick out gifts for their children.

More than 1,800 children from newborns to age 12 will receive toys through the program.

Salvation Army Suffolk Corps Capt. Shauntrice Anthony said she and the 138 volunteers are thankful to be able to provide for the city’s children and their families.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity that we have, and we couldn’t do it without the Cheer Fund, and Toys for Tots, and everyone who donates toys and money,” Anthony said. “We’re just grateful that we have the resources to do it, because if we didn’t do this, there are some children who wouldn’t have anything on Christmas morning. So we’re just happy that we’re able to do it.”

Anthony said she and the volunteers have been overjoyed to see the reactions of people coming in to choose the toys for their children.

“They’ve been very grateful, very appreciative,” Anthony said. “People have come in with joyful spirits and very thankful spirits, so I think that’s made the volunteers’ experience even better because they see how happy and appreciative everyone is who comes in.”

Through the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund, the Salvation Army received $40,000 to purchase toys — $10,000 worth of toys from the North Main Street Walmart and $30,000 worth of toys that Anthony ordered from a toy distributor.

It also received toys from the Toys for Tots boxes that have been placed throughout the community, and it received donated toys and clothes from families adopted through its Angel Tree. Area schools and grocery stores have collected toys for the Salvation Army as well, according to Anthony.

She credited the plethora of community partners for their help, including TowneBank, Keurig Dr. Pepper, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office, the Suffolk Animal Shelter, students from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, the Department of Social Services and the city of Suffolk among the many.

“It’s just a big community effort,” Anthony said. “It’s not anything that the Salvation Army can take sole credit for. We’re just thankful for the volunteers and all of the donations and everything.”

With daughters who have different interests, Murray was able to find several things for each of them, and was grateful to know they would have gifts on Christmas.

Said Murray: “They are going to be really excited.”