Tonawanda News — Every year for the past 13, hundreds of Tonawanda-area residents have purchased toys and gifts to add to the brightly colored barrels scattered throughout Twin Cities locations.
And every year, dozens of volunteers have given up hours of their time on one Sunday morning (and leading up to it) to make sure those gifts get to children who might not otherwise have much of a Christmas morning.
This is why.
On Sunday morning at the City of Tonawanda Fire Hall, the morning after the annual Rockin’ With Santa musical event, dozens of parents waited in line for their chance to walk through a veritable Santa’s workshop of toys, arranged neatly on tables by age group and type, all donated just for this day.
Among them, mom Carolyn held onto a bag as she selected gifts for her three children, ages 1, 3 and 4, picking out items including a small truck, a craft set, a ride-on toy ... and from piles of stuffed animals, a soft, brown puppy wearing a red scarf embroidered with “2013.”
All of their family members are on the other side of the country, so they’re alone here, she said.
“My husband is in school, so this is amazing for us. It’s humbling, to need help, but it’s amazing,” she repeated, tearing up a little. “Just amazing.”
Those approved for the event (names are gathered via the YWCA of the Tonawandas, the Head Start program, St. Vincent de Paul outreach program, Girard Place and others) check in, then are escorted through the room to select gifts.
When the event began at 9 a.m., the tables were full. Dolls were lined up next to die-cast cars and action figures, and a box full of footballs rested next to a small barrel full of basketballs and soccer balls. Other tables included stacks of board games,puzzles and books, while another featured a menagerie of stuffed animals. Areas with potential gifts for older children included toiletries, craft sets and remote-control cars.