Several rows of tables at Eastern Auto Mall are stacked high with children’s toys — about 6,000 toys so far, according to Ron Sterling, president of Holly Days Christmas for Children — and more will be arriving soon.
Holly Days volunteers are entering their final week of preparations prior to their Dec. 15 toy giveaway and, when toys are brought in from the group’s other drop-off locations, Sterling expects to have another 6,000 to 7,000 toys available for the big day.
The toy give-away will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 15. Parents must register their children, ages newborn to 12, in advance to take part. To register, they must call 360-4686 weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.
“People are manning the phones then,” said Sterling.
Parents will then attend the toy give-away at Eastern Auto Mall, where they will be allowed to pick out two large gifts and two stocking stuffers for each child.
Kim Pierce, a Holly Days volunteer, said more than 200 families have registered and she expects to have more than 400 families signed up by the day of the event.
“Our elves are going to be ready for them,” said Sterling. “We’re just ready to rock and roll.”
He is pleased with the collection of toys Holly Days will be offering.
“It’s been a real good year for us,” said Sterling. “We held a lot of fundraisers during the year to raise money to buy toys. Our sponsors are doing extra well this year.”
He added conducting fundraisers throughout the year “is the reason we’re so successful. We’re not just waiting until the last minute. We do fundraisers year-round.”
He added, “Our goal is to make every child smile a little bit on Christmas. This isn’t just for real needy families. A lot of people have lost jobs in the valley and need a little help. We’re not doing all their Christmas shopping for them, but if we can help, that’s what we want to do.”
Sterling said one reason for the success of the Holly Days program is people like the idea of helping their neighbors in the local area. “We buy local and we stay local and that’s huge,” he said.
In addition to conducting fundraisers throughout the year, Holly Days assists families who are having a difficult time due to house fires, accidents or illness.
“During the year, we helped around 25 families,” Sterling said.