Community organization accepting donations

Community organization accepting donations

Image Credit: Scott Daniels

What do you do when you are shopping for Christmas toys on a Santa scale? You enlist the help of hundreds of volunteers and buy tractor trailers full of toys and gifts.

Toys 4 Christmas, a charitable effort to bring toys to children throughout the area, is tackling the problem independently this year, helping families to be prepared for the big day on Dec. 25.

Toy donations will be collected Sunday, Dec. 11 from 1-4 p.m. at four NewPointe Community Church locations in Dover, Canton, Wooster and Coshocton. In turn, toys will be distributed from the same locations on Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The project is headed up by Chad Simpson of Simpson Salute Heating and Air Conditioning of New Philadelphia, with help from Steve VanHorn of Dover and many others.

“NewPointe has been a perfect fit to partner with for this,” Simpson said. “They have the space, the ability to handle volunteers and direct large numbers of vehicles. They also have a team to help with signing people in and out so we are able to track how much we will need next year.”

On distribution day, teams of volunteers will have organized, separated and staged all those toys in preparation for the arrival of area families.

The organization learned a lot in 2021 by partnering with Toys For Tots.

“We knew from what we did last year and signing people in as they arrived how many gifts we would need,” Simpson said. “We knew how many boys, how many girls, and were able to split them into age groups. That helps us a lot with distribution and planning. We distributed 20,000 toys to 5,000 kids last year, and we know that from our sign-in and sign-out volunteers.”

The program also employs personal shoppers. “Every single person who comes in, whether mom and dad or grandma and grandpa, gets a personal shopper,” Simpson said. “You don’t bring the children for that day because you’re going shopping for the kids’ surprises. We have shopping carts, and then there are literally thousands of toys for kids from newborn to teenagers to shop from.”

Last year’s efforts exposed a weakness Simpson has tried to correct this year. “There were a lot of gifts for younger kids,” he said, “but when you get to age 12 or higher, there wasn’t so much. So we’ve really turned our attention to doing better with that with Toys 4 Christmas.”

Funding for Toys 4 Christmas comes from local donations from both businesses and individuals.

“A lot of local businesses have helped to make this happen,” Simpson said. “Dover Hydraulics, Adventure Harley Davidson, Gradall, Tractor Supply and others have helped to provide funding, and we are enormously grateful. Everything we receive, whether toys or cash, goes into the local community. If we end up with a significant surplus, that helps next year. We are keeping it local.”

Another important partner is the local Walmart store in New Philadelphia. “Walmart does quite a lot for local communities,” Ryan Lundin of the New Philadelphia Walmart said. “Steve VanHorn reached out to me last year, and we were able to help, so we’re happy to do that again this year. The whole store has gotten involved this year.”

In terms of volunteers, they had around 500 people last year. “But this year it should be closer to 2,000. We have whole groups coming out to help,” Simpson said.

This year is proving to be such a successful effort that Simpson is already committing to making Toys 4 Christmas an annual event. “Oh yes,” he said, “we will do this every year. There is always a need.”

Donations of toys and cash will be accepted at the collection drive on Dec. 11. “We will have people on hand to write receipts for cash donations,” Simpson said. “Some people like to give toys and an additional check, and that’s fine, of course.”

NewPointe Community Church locations are 3950 state Route 39 NW in Dover, 5305 Broadmoor Circle NW in Canton, 23801 County Road 621 in Coshocton and 1741 Oak Hill Road in Wooster.