November can be the month of giving and charity as the holidays approach. CROSS Services, a Rogers-based nonprofit that provides support services to area communities, is allowing people to donate to its annual toy store until December 6. Toys can be dropped off at CROSS Services, located at 12915 Weinand Circle in Rogers.
CROSS serves the communities of Champlin, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo and Rogers
“I think the reason our community is so generous and loves supporting CROSS and the toy store is that they know that by supporting these programs they are supporting the families in this community,” said Pat Schwalbe. , director of volunteers and community involvement. “There are other programs, but there is no guarantee when they donate where it goes. They do a great job and they’re fantastic, but what’s unique about us is that when they donate here it stays here, it goes to the families who need it right here.
For more than 40 years, CROSS has managed the toy store that allows families in need registered with CROSS to buy toys for their children from birth to 10 years old for the holiday season. The toys in the store are organized into age groups to make it easier for parents, with batteries from birth to 3 years, 4 to 7 years and 8 to 10 years.
Children ages 11-18 receive $ 30 gift cards for places like Target, Walmart, or Visa gift cards.
All families will also receive a tie blanket and a stuffed animal. CROSS families can sign up for 20-minute shopping sprees that start from December 1 to 22.
The store is filled with thousands of toys. In 2020, the Toy Shop donated toys and gift cards to 1,454 children.
“It’s a big sea of toys,” Schwalbe said. “It’s exciting and overwhelming. You think this is great, families are going to have a wonderful selection to choose from. It’s like a little toy store. Packed up. And that’s why we categorize them by age so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
The shop is set up and managed by volunteer elves. There are Trader Elves who will help families find the gift they need for their child and then help them load the gifts into their cars, Registration Elves and Floating Elves who help keep everything in stock.
Overall, the toy store needs about 75 volunteers each year, all working three hour shifts to keep the store running. Volunteers don’t need to be regular CROSS volunteers to help with the toy store, and toy store slots fill up quickly each year.
“Our volunteers are delighted to be here and to help,” Schwalbe said. “Our motto is family first, so we just want our families to have the best experience we can give them. We couldn’t do any of this without our community. CROSS is fully supported by the community. So everything we do here is provided by the community.
Harold and Dorothy Trombley are volunteer elves who helped set up the toy store. They both volunteer at CROSS to help with other services, but decided to devote more hours to making sure the toy store was in tip top shape and because of their love for Christmas.
“I was amazed at what we already have up there [in the Toy Shop]”Harold Trombley said.” I can’t get over people’s generosity. “
Dorothy Trombley does this for the love of seeing all the toys and toy store fun. “I don’t have any grandchildren anymore, so I don’t see all of these fun toys that these kids are getting anymore,” she said. “It’s funny.”
The volunteer elves, who will help families with their shopping starting December 1, will be celebrating by wearing Santa hats and fun or “ugly” holiday sweaters.
The toy store is set up by the CROSS food department so families can buy toys for their children and participate in the other services CROSS has to offer to make it a holistic experience. CROSS also offers school supplies, senior food deliveries, clothing and household purchases and more.
“Here they set a schedule that suits their life and they arrive at the date that suits them,” Schwalbe said. “So it all creates good feelings and less stress, they’re so happy and excited to be here. They know they can do their toy shopping, do their shopping. It’s a well-rounded experience.
Families don’t have to worry about a lack of CROSS toys. According to Schwalbe, they fill the shelves so often that there aren’t any bad dates or days someone can walk into the toy store.
“It’s upbeat and it’s fun because everyone’s on a date, they’re relaxed and like to look around for toys,” Schwalbe said. “So they don’t feel the pressure [unlike if] 30 people go through the stuff at the same time. We make it a really fun and upbeat experience where they shop for their child and don’t have to worry about someone else grabbing the toy. We always restock our toys every day. So everyone gets great quality and great stuff. “
Donations can be delivered to CROSS Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Donations are open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. until December 6.
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