Nov. 5th, 2011

melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
(Note: I'm posting about this not to show off, but in hopes that others will pick up the tradition.)

Mike started it. He was working at Woolworth's, and they had kids' bikes on sale. With his employee discount, they were a fantastic deal. So he bought one, and took the big, plain brown box out to the Toys For Tots donation barrel. It didn't fit.

"What's in there?" said the Marine on duty.
"A bike."
Pause. "You're donating a brand-new bike?"
"Yep."

I swear that stern-faced Marine teared up. He cleared out the barrel and made that box fit.

Well, that started a trend. We didn't usually donate much. (He was a stock clerk, and I was a college student.) Then we realized that AFTER Christmas, stores have 50-75% off sales. So we started stocking up. And then we realized that some of the teddy bears, stuffed bunnies, etc left after Valentine's Day and Easter are pretty generic. (Come to think of it, there are great sand-pail bargains in September. Hm.)

Anyway, so all year long we buy toys at a fraction of their cost, put them in plastic bags to keep the dust off, and stash them in a closet. (One of last year's finds: A shopping cart full of big, cuddly stuffed dogs in the grocery store, for about $2 each. We just pushed the whole cart up to the register and said "We'll take them all.". ;))

So today we took our haul over to the local Dunkin Donuts. The box was empty when we got there. When we left it was literally overflowing with stuffed dogs, art kits, puzzles, teddy bears, a giant floppy stuffed reindeer...

There were at least 40 toys. I don't think anything was over $10. (Maybe the reindeer.) Most were much less. We probably spent less than we would've for a daily cup of coffee, and dozens of kids will have a new toy this year.

So please, spread the word! Let's see how many boxes we can stuff.

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