Busy parents, grandparents and others looking for toys this Christmas season can swap their like-new toys for other like-new at the Christmas Toy Swap at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Life-net Church, 142 Dellinger Road, Urbana. Participants may drop off items at the church up until the event and then meet at the church to receive the same number of toys to take home. Donations are accepted.
“This is the fifth year for the Toy Swap, and it’s really grown,” said Julie Yohey, Toy Swap organizer. “The first year I think there were a dozen mamas, and now there’s been consistently like 30 each year. It’s really cool.
“The evening of the event at Life-net, the moms bring their toys with them,” she said. “They set them out into the categories like stocking-stuffer, baby/toddler, boys and girls. They put them into the rows, and then they take a number as they arrive and they ‘shop’ in order of their number and they get to take the same number of toys that they brought. If they brought two they leave with two, if they brought six they leave with six, but thanks to donors like Jodi (Kitchen) we’ve had everyone leave with extra each year, heaping boxes full of toys. It’s amazing.”
“I know there’s a lot of families in need,” said Jodi Kitchen, a frequent donor to the event. “I think about all the families out in California, how stressed they’re going to be this holiday, and I just love to give. My husband and I have both been givers ever since we’ve been married. And I like the toys, too.”
The event has toys for all ages. Among the first toys to go are typically tractors, trucks and dolls, and “shoppers” can make their selection in the order that they arrive.
“Having a couple of kids, sometimes they get too many toys each year,” Yohey said. “Some of them are a hit and they really play with them, but there’s always others that they open them and it just sits there. So the toy is like new but I didn’t know what to do with it, and then I had the idea that I just need another mama to trade with … The kids don’t notice if toys are not in packaging. The packaging is just in the way on Christmas morning, and sometimes it’s harder to get into.”
Children are not invited to the Dec. 4 event. Yohey said that the event goes quickly and is usually finished within an hour. They usually don’t have anything left over because anything sitting on the floor at the end is given away.
Participants may deliver toys the day of the event or deliver them to the church prior to the event in boxes or bags labeled “Toy Swap.” For more information, contact Life-net at 937-652-1303.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304