I have a better idea of what the North Pole must be like now.
I’ve strolled through a building full of red-shirted, busy and happy people doing good things that will make Duncan children of all ages smile during this Christmas season.
I’ve walked through crowded and carefully arranged rooms of brightly colored toys and games, backpacks, dolls and accessories, doctor sets, pots and pans, art supplies, puzzles, balls and skateboards.
I’ve touched tall stacks of action figures, cuddly soft stuffed animals, musical instruments, earrings, science sets, CDs, wallets, caps and tool kits.
I’ve felt the warmth of throws and blankets, socks, pajamas and shoes.
I’ve marveled at shelved parts and pieces that become shiny bicycles.
I’ve looked at maps, charts and delivery zones that would make Rudolph envious.
I have been to the Duncan Toy Shop.
And I have been touched.
The North Pole for all its good, for all its glitz and glamour, for all its decades-old reputation may indeed be a special place, but it is no more magical, I suppose, than the remarkable building on Ninth Street here.
You likely know The Toy Shop better than I. It started in 1944 under the leadership of Church Women United, functioned well for years, shifted into high gear during the early 1990s and today serves in the neighborhood of 500 families and 1,200 children each year.
Its mission is starkly simple. Put smiles on children’s faces at Christmas.
It’s a not-for-show kind of organization. Names and reputations mean little. Giving and helping mean a lot. And the year-round project’s push to be structurally unstructured is a key to its fulfillment.
You’ll find red tape at The Toy Shop. It’s used to wrap gifts instead of tieing up good deeds.
You’ll hear questions asked of those who seek aid. But the words are more like what and how than why since the basic criteria for help revolves about being a Duncan parent or guardian who asks for assistance.
It’s all about the kids, remember.
Each will receive a package worth approximately $40, tailored through a registration process to match their dreams and wishes and assembled by volunteers whose happy thoughts likely add an unseen hug or loving squeeze.
It’s so simple, so basic, so logical, so caring.
It’s that way because so many people work so hard for so long.
It’s that way because of spud dinners, rummage sales, concession stands, donations and gifts and other events or gatherings large or small.
Registration for this year’s holiday journey resumes Dec. 3 (this year’s date) in an atmosphere that is frenzied but upbeat and even jovial. Maybe the thought of helping others has something to do with that. Now begins the process of putting together lists, sort of like Santa but perhaps without much of that naughty-and-nice stuff.
Then the magic really begins. Dozens of helpers – elves perhaps – descend on The Toy Shop for two full weeks of packaging and assembly. I’ve not been, of course, but I can just hear the whistling while they work or the happy sounds of Christmas carols being sung as memories of their own wonderful holidays past are relived and reloved.
Knowing a kind, elderly lady has been by to share her annual gift of pennies, nickels and dimes pinched and saved since last year adds meaning to the process. So do the gifts brought by a family who, years ago when times for them were tough, were takers instead of givers. And likewise that small donation made by a grand mom whose tearful toys or utilities decision was made unnecessary by the generosity of new and faceless friends.
Come Dec. 14 (this year’s actual date), tightly packed sleighs of a more modern era will cover the city, enthusiastically ensuring the delivery of much joy, excitement and even hope.
Though most shelves at The Toy Shop will be empty then, some clutter may remain. Some sighs may be deep. And some muscles may even ache.
But what a special place it is, what a contribution it makes, what a lesson it shares and what a message it teaches.
The North Pole may be more famous, but the Duncan Toy Shop is also likely one of a kind, reminding us all of a love that is contagious and a spirit that touches us throughout the year.
It makes a difference here to be sure, for those who receive and perhaps even more for those who give.
580-255-5354, Ext. 130.
I have a better idea of what the North Pole must be like now.
An impressive ranking that could be better
That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.
Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents
Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.
The blissful serenity of No-TV Land
Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.
Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.
Cooper’s message is to remain active
Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.
Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”
Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.
Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again
Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.
Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan
As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.
Boys can still be boys
You know, the past was seldom as blissful as viewing it through the eyewear of nostalgia makes us believe.
That said, though, I do believe being a young boy in the 1950s and ‘60s — and probably further back than that — was more fun than it is today.
Local film festival deserves applause
A highlight of the January calendar will take center stage Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 when the Trail Dance Film Festival showcases up-and-coming filmmakers and their work.
Nearly 100 features will be shown on screens at the L.B. and Ola Simmons Community Activities Center and the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.
Fair & Expo work a sound decision
The alarm seems positive. Duncan’s Stephens County Fair & Expo Center, host to a full schedule of activities year round as one of the state’s most active and successful agri-tourism facilities, appears to be a victim of its own success.
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- An impressive ranking that could be better