December 15, 2018 | Melissa Killion
Ever wonder what happens to all of those "Toys for Tots" boxes spread about the Capital Region? Ever curious to know where all of those toys go and how they are distributed? If your like me, you drop in your donations and trust the process that on Christmas some deserving child will get a great toy! Without the toys there is nothing BUT the behind the scenes process is where its at!  Yesterday I had the honor of volunteering for this amazing organization and witness all of the magic happen! Toys for Tots operates on the generosity of the volunteers and their time.... and frankly without THEM.....the magic doesn't happen!

 When I arrived at the warehouse I was greeted by my peers from CM Fox Real Estate and as we entered into this large meeting space that was modest at best my eyes immediately caught the 2 windows to the left of me and what was inside.....this huge warehouse full of toys from all of the generous people in our Capital Region. I have to say I was taken back. One because of the sheer amount of generosity but more so the need. The head volunteer named Allison was stern and to the point and you could tell that she had a mission she was trying to accomplish through us.

As we all entered into this huge warehouse we were tasked with separating out toys by age and gender, separating out stocking stuffers, broken packages, and books.  We tagged, bagged and prepped orders. While not brain surgery the amount of logistics needed to pull off all of these orders was nothing short of spectacular and Allison had it down.  In the background you could hear the hum of the forklift that was flying around lifting pallets of orders already prepped. He whipped around on that like a boss......again, all of his time is volunteered.

As the morning grew shorter the churches and community organizations arrived to pick up their orders, all of our busy work begin to become quite clear as I saw the faces of the people receiving these gifts light up with joy.  You could see the relief on their face in knowing that the children that they work with would be getting some great things!  The shear size of some of these orders was quite abundant and many of the organizations and churches rolled up in u-haul trucks. The trucks were packed from ceiling to floor, front to back with the donations.  While one woman was elated with the gifts she turned and whispered quietly to Allison,  "Are there any coats this year?" and Allison turned to her in disappointment and simply said "I am so sorry no."  My heart sank.  

 While I was privileged with meeting many of the organization chairs, one particular couple really made a mark on my heart! This  elderly couple  arrived with their U-haul truck and were sweet as could be .... overwhelmed with joy for all of the donations they were about to receive.  As  we loaded the bags into the truck she said "I really hope there are puzzles.... Oh how the children love puzzles!"  I stopped in my tracks and just looked at her as she told me a story of how the children look forward to doing the puzzles every morning. She continued on telling me how a small group of children would take turns riding this one electric car and one day it was left in the road.  It was accidentally backed into and destroyed.   She said the children were completely devastated and tears poured down their cheeks, she said she'll never forget their little faces. To say that I was touched would be putting it mildly.  It was truly in that moment that it all came together for me from the purchase to the donation to the volunteering to the bagging, tagging and grabbing to the pulling of orders to the loading of trucks.  I was humbled to say the very least.

The gift of giving is much greater than receiving! While my donation of toys and time was a mere blip in the grand scheme, it truly touched my heart and has created a drive inside of me to give more, donate more, and be more present within my community.  I encourage you make a commitment to working as a volunteer, you'll likely find that the rewards you enjoy as a result of your participation are much greater than what you give up by sharing your time. There's no better time that the present to donate your time to help others or support a cause you believe in. The sooner you get started, the faster your efforts can begin to make a difference!



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