The event Toys for joy is sure to bring big smiles to the faces of many children this Christmas serving over three hundred families though out Scott County.
Last Sunday, December 17, parents lined up and waited for hours to get their turn to go through the line to receive free toys and additional free wrapping. Nothing more required from them than the patience to wait, a food stamp card, and an ID, most are very grateful for the assistance. Volunteers assist the participants as they go through the line to pick out the toys they want for their children. This year several pageant winners were in attendance to help with the event. Gracie Cox, Miss Scott County Fairest of the Fair, assisted many families during the five-hour long event.
“If feels awesome to be able to help people,” Cox said. “I’ve just never realized how many families need assistance until I came here. It’s great though because parents get to pick out something their kids want for Christmas, and as Miss Scott County I want to be here to help my community in any way that I can.”
For each child in the family, parents will collect one large toy, two smaller toys, and five stocking stuffers. Several lucky families were able to give their child an even larger toy such as a new bicycle or a life size dollhouse. Kristina Winnie is a mother of two and pregnant with her third child. Winnie is grateful for the assistance, and thankful she will be able to provide her daughter Cadee with her first bicycle this Christmas because of Toy’s for Joy.
“It’s all she(Cadee) wanted this Christmas,” Winnie said. “If it wasn’t for this event, it would be really hard to give anything.”
Although bicycles and big toys can be given out now, it wasn’t always possible. The success comes from collaborative efforts of; The Unicorn Fund, Morgan Scott Project, Alqui, The Boys and Girls Club of The Upper Cumberland, Scott County, and surrounding communities. Before coming together six years ago, the organizations provided separate contributions
Joining forces allowed the organizations to provide all individuals in need with equal benefits. Verhonda Hembree, Vice Chairman for the Unicorn Fund, helped to organize the combination of the non-for profit organizations, creating Toys for Joy.
“Before we joined together some were getting a lot and some were getting a little,” Hembree said. “When we join, everyone benefits equally.”
Although the event is a grand combined effort today, it hasn’t always been. The Unicorn Fund began 35 years ago with the death of Patty Thomas, a Morgan County Resident who drove to work at the Department of Human Services in Scott County. Her death left Morgan and Scott Counties at a loss. Memorial donations purchased Christmas presents for many children the first year of her death, and later became the non-for profit organization. Each year after Thomas’s death the Unicorn Fund would continue to help care for the children by providing children with as much as could be collected for Christmas, but most things were used.
Now, nearly everything provided to participants is new or gently used, and more expensive items can be given. It’s a community wide effort, and Christmas wouldn’t be possible for many children without the event.
“It takes the entire community working together to achieve anything,” Hembree said. “A great amount of thanks to everyone who has helped make this event possible, because we couldn’t do it without them.”