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.
A Christmas ride to remember
Eighty-year-old Gerald Marlar hasn’t ridden a bicycle regularly for decades, but he and five of his buddies are making certain Duncan children get that opportunity this Christmas.
It’s just one of many behind-the-scenes stories that makes The Toy Shop, started by Church Women United in 1944, a special place where magical things happen and selfless, giving deeds create bright, toothpaste smiles each holiday season.
Marlar, Bill Cope, Glen Peterson, Tom Stone, Ron Coon and Joe Norton have become modern day elves, logging hours in The Toy Shop’s busy bicycle room on Ninth Street, assembling two-wheel masterpieces of all sizes and colors for good little boys and girls and adding a dash of love with each one.
Whatever you call him, Santa is loved by all
Boys and girls of all ages, here is some festive poetic verse I know we all have stored in our memory banks. So, feel free to recite along:
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Generous Pho Pho...
Generous Pho Pho?
Fiscal impact of state question 766 for counties, schools, and career technology centers
On November 12, 2012, S.Q. 766 was on a ballot and went to the vote of the people to eliminate tax assessments on intangible personal property. What you might not know is that prior to the vote of S.Q. 766, legislation was already in place to prevent any NEW tax assessments on intangible personal property.
City’s new budget our plan for future
All eyes should be focused on members of the Duncan City Council and its professional staff as work continues in putting together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
It is an important document.
It is a large document.
It is an expensive document.
It affects us all.
A word of thanks for unsung heroes
Conversations the past several days have centered on the weather with emphasis on bitter cold temperatures, treacherous driving conditions, inconvenience and a forecast that calls for little change in the immediate future.
Now seems an appropriate time to express our appreciation.
Affordable healthcare is here
The Republican Party’s angst against the colloquially named “Obamacare” is probably due to the millions of dollars they have wasted demeaning it. Whether they like it or not, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) can only be reversed if voters become lazy and allow Republicans to gain control of all three branches of our federal government. What both parties should do is look ahead to when the PPACA is fully implemented. Then, evaluate the final results when affordable healthcare for everyone is completed. A negative critique of a project at its inception is a wasteful effort in futility, politically and financially.
Ruling is in the hand of God
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby, the landmark lawsuit addressing the constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their company without violating their religious convictions. No date has been set for the case to be heard, but it is expected to be decided by June.
Decades later, shock remains
The memory is still vivid. Nov. 22, 1963. Shortly after 1 p.m. A Friday. Sophomore year in high school. Walking down the second floor hallway to an English class.
Over the public address system came a familiar voice, that of the principal. The announcement was shocking. President John Kennedy had been shot, possibly killed.
Laughter stopped. Jokes subsided. Conversations ended. Girls cried. Disbelief reigned.
Last week, visiting Dallas, I relived the horror and the feeling was much like that I recall 18 years ago. I was limp.
At least there’s a music soundtrack for Black Friday
When I started to spoon out some dressing from the Thanksgiving turkey, what came out was a dollop of the sticky notes that serve as my memory. Talk about dry — but they were well-seasoned:
Count me among the folks who would rather be tossed naked into a briar patch than spend one nano-second in the Black Friday mosh pit that has eliminated “thanks” from the Thanksgiving holiday. (OK, I’ll pause a moment to let you erase the vision of me naked from your mind’s eye!)
Anyway, I’m not much of a shopper to begin with, and the thought of participating in the Black Friday is less appealing than drinking gasoline to cure strep throat. But I did find one thing that was kinda cool about this shopping insanity. It was a list called the Top 20 Songs for Black Friday, which was compiled by Michael Saltsman for the Wolfgang’s Vault website.
Filing opportunity opens for leaders
The opportunity is here. The window of time is brief. The importance of consideration is critical. And the decisions are important.
It is filing time for political offices, time for current leaders to re-commit, time for people with a vision to emerge, time for citizens to pay their civic rent.
The process begins tomorrow.
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- A Christmas ride to remember