Help Our Toy Cottage with a Makeover!
Our FLOC offices are filled with the hearts and minds of very active, passionate volunteers. Over the years, many many phenomenal moments have happened. There was the time that my husband, Doug and I put out a Facebook post that we needed volunteers to come and decorate our Toy Cottage. Ok, first of all, I have no idea what a Facebook post really entails. I just put down a few random dates and location, and came down to our offices. In three days, 500 volunteers showed up. There was a new mission group from Africa. We were their first trip to the USA. Little children cut snowflakes out of paper, having no idea how to share thoughts in English, but had a wonderful idea of sharing the thought of a toy wonderland. You were all there to make our Toy Cottage brilliant with light and love. Thousands of families have come through our Cottage, filled with wonder and gratitude.
There was the time that a local inner city school kindly requested any and all help for the academic year to come. And there was the response by an area church… Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek donated 524 book bags, full of supplies, given to children who, for the first time, could request a specific color for their book bag. The joy that Stacy Clements and her wonderful church provided, the empowerment given to those children, the gift of community care just leaves me speechless.
These are two of many mazillions of stories of what Dayton has done to care for its own, on my watch at FLOC. Today, I want to share recent stories of giving and endearing care for others; two people who are sharing their time, effort and energies on trying to make FLOC and the children we serve feel embraced by a caring public.
Our Toy Cottage did a fundraiser throughout the community. Barrels were placed at many businesses; donations were welcomed at our Talbott Tower location. And we filled our shelves with your generosity.
Then over 1500 children were given Christmas cheer, and our shelves were nearly empty. We were connected to an area business, The Shopping Bag, who wanted to do another toy drive in order to restock our shelves. Lauren Murphy- Zahora, the President and Founder of the COOLEST STORE EVER- located at 3109 Far Hills Ave., go NOW, contacted me with the hopes of filling up our Toy Cottage. We did a few commercials, Lauren and her mom Heather put out all kinds of press releases, and they filled their store. I mean FILLED. There were thousands of new toys and games and fun stuff. And Lauren and Heather donated huge red Santa bags to collect some of that huge ginormous amounts of magic. And lots of wonderful people came and transferred vans full of things into a Toy Cottage without a whole lot of things. Lauren, Heather, I have no words to thank you enough for the gift of you. For those of you reading, seriously, drop what you’re doing now and go to their store. You will be SO glad you did.
And then our Toy Cottage was visited by some more area churches and missions and generous people, and our entire space was filled with bags and boxes of fabulous gifts, both wrapped by children donating and unwrapped. Our twinkling space was amassed by the thousands of those of you with gifts to offer. The light is dimmed by the numbers of presents, brightened by what that really means.
So Sue Spiegel, our Boutique Manager is now taking on the task of reinventing, of redecorating, of reassembling our Toy Cottage. If you have ever had the extreme pleasure of meeting our Sue, you would know she is a creative powerhouse of organization, an amazing source of light and love, and has an incredible gift of making things glitter and shine. I came into the Toy Cottage the other day, and there was Sue, with a tool belt on her hips, pads on her knees, and a room recently cramped with towering boxes, newly made into a pretty storage area that was actually accessible.
I have been lucky enough to have witnessed the moments where Sue meets the young people she dresses for formal wear at our Boutique. She meets and greets her young patrons with an ever ready and wide smile, and fills them with a very real experience of being special and important. Sue has created Cinderella joy for hundreds of young people who just didn’t think they would ever be able to make it to their prom. Because of her care and expertise, they do so feeling glitzy and glamorous.
It will take months and months to complete this labor of love that Sue has taken on in our Toy Cottage. It is an honor to know someone who is simply dedicated to the joy of others. Dear Sue, I am humbled.
There are ongoing projects, volunteering positions, constant needs to fill for the children we are lucky enough to serve. I am just so very grateful that there are these people I am telling you of here and now.
To those of you who are looking for something to do- there’s plenty to share, there’s so much that you can offer, and it’s the best thing to know you’re doing so much.
- Beth Mann