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Toy Mission requests expected to triple

December 04, 2000

Toy Mission requests expected to triple



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The inside of the Toy Mission's Chambersburg headquarters looks like every child's fantasy: Bicycles, roller blades, teddy bears and board games line the rooms from floor to ceiling.

Boxes already packed with toys matching a Franklin County child's wish list are stacked in neat rows inside a warehouse on Lincoln Way West.

With only two weeks to go before the nonprofit organization distributes the toys to about 350 local families - more than 800 children - the pace is beginning to pick up, said Dottie Bailey, co-director of the Toy Mission.

"We have been here two days a week, but as it gets closer to shipping day we work as many hours as need be to get it done," Bailey said.

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Families who need help providing gifts for their children under age 12 have until Friday to submit request forms.

Children ask for three toys, and volunteers do their best to meet every request, Bailey said.

The toys are a mix of new and used, all donated by area residents and businesses. Everything donated to Toy Mission, sponsored by the Falling Spring Chapter No. 2840 of the American Association of Retired Persons, stays in Franklin County.

"When people donate here they know it's going close by," she said.

Monetary donations are used to buy batteries for toys and helmets to go with the bikes.

The process began in October when Bailey and co-director M. Richard Bowers, began sorting toys with other volunteers.

"We check all of the puzzles. If one piece is missing, we won't give it out. The same with board games. If instructions and pieces are missing, they are no good," she said.

Battery-operated toys come with batteries and bicycles come with helmets.

"Everything is ready for the kids so they can go out the door and ride if there is no snow," Bailey said.

Volunteers also clean every toy, and one woman, Elsie Overcash, takes the hundreds of stuffed animals to her home and washes them.

Bailey, 58, said she cleans a lot of the dolls herself at home, washing their hair and bodies and leaving them in front of her wood stove to dry.

About three-dozen volunteers show up at the Toy Mission on a regular basis, while there are dozens more who donate and deliver the toys.

Founded more than 50 years ago, the Toy Mission's operation is down to a science.

The requests come in and are processed as a family's shopping list. One volunteer "shops" the Toy Mission's packing room, filling a cart with the items on the list. They are then packaged into a box and labeled.

The boxes will be loaded onto trucks donated by Roadway Express to be delivered Dec. 16. Toys going to the farthest points of the county will be delivered Dec. 17 and 18 by the Loyal Order of Moose No. 842 and the Franklin County Association of Life Underwriters.

This is Bailey's third Christmas volunteering at the Toy Mission. She said her neighbor, The Rev. John Stamm, former co-director, approached her after she moved to Chambersburg to volunteer.

"Once I started working here it became my baby. It is so fulfilling," Bailey said. "I've delivered toys and seeing the light in the children's eyes makes it all worthwhile."

As of Sunday, Bailey said the Toy Mission had received about 150 requests for about 300 children, but she expects that could triple by the deadline at the end of the week.

Bicycles, baby dolls, video games and coloring books are the most popular requests, but the electronic video games are too expensive for the Toy Mission to supply.

Bailey said it's interesting to see the toys that come in. Some she recognizes from her childhood or her children's - some she's never seen before.

"I'm like a big kid working in a toy factory," she said.

Next weekend Red Lobster is holding its 10th annual fundraiser for the Toy Mission. The restaurant on Wayne Avenue will open for two breakfast seatings at 8 and 9 a.m. Dec. 16. The restaurant is donating the food and staff, and the $3 fee will go to the Toy Mission.

Request forms for toys can be mailed to the Toy Mission at P.O. Box 137, Chambersburg, Pa. 17201, and must be postmarked by Dec. 8.

Anyone interested in volunteering or receiving a form may drop by the headquarters at 204 Lincoln Way West Tuesday between noon and 4 p.m. and Wednesday between 6 and 9 p.m., or call Bailey at 717-267-1545.

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