Santa’s Free Toyshop off to a good start to help needy Christmas shoppers in Galloway

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Volunteers carry toys in from the parking lot. Cedar Creek High School sophomore Kristin Flaherty of Galloway, left, was once in Kirsten Sullivan’s first grade class. Sullivan is a co-director of Santa’s Free Toyshop. The mother of Mary Frances Wenig of Northfield, a senior at Mainland Regional High School works with Sullivan. Volunteers carry toys in from the parking lot. Cedar Creek High School sophomore Kristin Flaherty of Galloway, left, was once in Kirsten Sullivan’s first grade class. Sullivan is a co-director of Santa’s Free Toyshop. The mother of Mary Frances Wenig of Northfield, a senior at Mainland Regional High School works with Sullivan.

GALLOWAY – Santa’s Free Toyshop led by local schoolteachers Kim Gollub and Kirsten Sullivan couldn’t be off to a quicker start this year if Dasher and Dancer were leading the way.

“The first day went very well,” Sullivan said. “It was non stop adults and children giving generous donations. Some of the gently used items looked brand new.”

She said the toyshop received less new items than usual in the first of two donation days this year Saturday, Dc. 7.

“But we are thankful for the many used items this year and what good condition they are in,” Sullivan said.

Santa’s Free Toyshop is again at Reformation Lutheran Church, Biscayne Avenue and Route 9.  

A second session receiving donations is scheduled noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.

Drive right up to the church. Need help? You’ll find very willing volunteers.

“Most of the donations come from Galloway families and many hear of it through our schools,” Sullivan said. “Superintendent Dr. Annette Giaquinto has gladly supported Kim and me in our efforts. She has allowed flyers being sent home in the past with our schoolchildren, and it is posted on our school website as well.”

To go green this year, school information official Joanna Babcock suggested she send an email to the school families instead of sending paper flyers.

“Naturally, Kim and I agreed that would be a greener alternative to get the word out,” Sullivan said.

“This year, the Galloway Township Education Association Pride Committee has generously donated money through a grant since the majority of the shoppers are from our Galloway school families,” Sullivan said. “This will help to relieve Kim of the cost of buying some of the incidentals we need such as bags for the shoppers, batteries for the toys, ziplock baggies for the smaller items, juice and cookies to be offered while they shop to create a cozier feel. We may even have a gift wrapping station this year.”

She said some families – the Schairers, Randos, Wrights, Goodwins, Wenigs and Brookes, to name just a sampling - have been giving since Santa’s Free Toyshop first started.

The families, she said, put items aside throughout the year to support the toyshop where needy families will be shopping free for the seventh year the weekend of Dec. 21-22.

“It’s nice to hear the stories too of how their children are giving items away that others can enjoy and be able to use,” Sullivan said. “That’s a big part of this, being able to teach our children about the importance of giving and caring about others we may not even know … practicing random acts of kindness towards others.”

She said that two of her former first grade students have volunteered at Santa’s Free Toyshop for the past two years.

“Last year I had two former students, Kristin Flaherty - Cedar Creek High School - and Chloe Robertson – Galloway Township Middle School - that I have remained in contact with, as well as their moms,” Sullivan said. “They are now in 10th and 11th grades. They are helping this year as well. Terry Wenig, my friend and fellow teacher, has her daughter Mary Frances, a senior at Mainland, offering her time and donations as well. They are absolutely wonderful helpers and compassionate girls.”

A nice wooden pink and white kitchen play set with food and a Princess scooter, both in really good condition, were donated by Sullivan’s daughter’s best friend in kindergarten, Sophia Maggio.

“That will definitely make a little girl very happy,” Sullivan said. “We also got a high chair, bassinet and bouncey seat for babies.”

Board games, puzzles, books, Legos, trucks, cars, roller skates, dolls, Barbies, baby toys and more are being prepared to be given away.

“Many of the donations also come from the teachers in Galloway,” Sullivan said. “I think its been a little more manageable not having the clothing donations this year. Unfortunately in the past we got a lot of clothing with stains and rips, or for summer. It was difficult trying to sort through it all, keep it organized and nice for the people. If we get more volunteers next year maybe we can try it again - but for this year no clothing or stuffed animals please.”

Sullivan said the church pastor, Heather Sugden, has been a key to the toyshop’s success.

“We would not be able to provide this help without her giving us the space to do so,” Sullivan said. “She also volunteers her time, as well as members of her congregation donating their time and giving new and used items every year.”

Sullivan said Santa’s Free Toyshop was created by Gollub, and she and Gollub’s daughter, Jessica Fuchs, have been involved from the start.

“We still have this Sunday to accept donations from 12-3,” Sullivan said. “I am hoping the donations will be plentiful like last week. Shopping days are the weekend of the 21st and 22nd from noon to 3 p.m. 

Photos by Steve Prisament

A giant kitchen set was just one of the items donated by the Maggi family of Galloway. Domenic Maggio, 16, an Absegami High School junior, worked with his sister, Sophia, 6, a Smithville Elementary School kindergartener. Domenic plays lacrosse at Absegami. A giant kitchen set was just one of the items donated by the Maggi family of Galloway. Domenic Maggio, 16, an Absegami High School junior, worked with his sister, Sophia, 6, a Smithville Elementary School kindergartener. Domenic plays lacrosse at Absegami.

Items begin to pile up in a basement room at Reformation Lutheran Church Saturday, Dec. 7. Items begin to pile up in a basement room at Reformation Lutheran Church Saturday, Dec. 7.

The Widecrantz family of Egg Harbor Township drops off donations. Mom Laura Anne is flanked by Peyton, 4, who attends English Creek Academy, and Sawyer, 9, who goes to Slaybaugh Elementary School. This is their fourth year donating items to Santa’s Free Toyshop. The Widecrantz family of Egg Harbor Township drops off donations. Mom Laura Anne is flanked by Peyton, 4, who attends English Creek Academy, and Sawyer, 9, who goes to Slaybaugh Elementary School. This is their fourth year donating items to Santa’s Free Toyshop.


blog comments powered by Disqus