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Toys bring joy

by F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com
Jim Grant/Nevada AppealVolunteer Michelle Pacheco, left, helps a Carson City man pick out Christmas presents at the Toys for Joy program on Tuesday afternoon.
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Maria Batt said she felt like Mrs. Claus during the Salvation Army’s Toys for Joy giveaway Tuesday.

“This is my 15th year doing this, and I am so excited,” said Batt, a custodian at Mark Twain Elementary School and volunteer coordinator for the Toys for Joy program. “This is the first year we’ve had so much stuff I think. I don’t have enough words to say thanks to the community.”

In the Salvation Army’s distribution center off Fifth Street on Tuesday, tables were overflowing with dolls, books, trucks, clothes and games. Several barrels were full of stuffed animals and someone donated new, beautifully crafted afghans.

Batt said the support from the community was so overwhelming this year that each of the 300 children on Toys for Joy list would receive a bicycle.

“I wish I could see all those faces on Christmas day,” she said.

Father of three, Jesus, 30, said he and his wife are both unemployed this holiday season.

“This has helped us for the kids so they can be happy on Christmas,” he said. “If it wasn’t for this, we’d have nothing to give them.”

Parents were escorted into the toy room by a Salvation Army volunteer armed with a large plastic bag. They walked with the parents and visited each station, while the looked through the toys and filled up the bags.

By the time they left, not only were people walking out with a sack full of toys, but they’d also received a box of food and in some instances too much gratitude to contain.

Laura, 42, wept when Batt showed her the little red bicycle she’d set aside for Laura’s 4-year-old son.

And throughout her visit, with each gift placed into her bag, Laura shed more tears.

Outside, as volunteers loaded up the goodies into her vehicle, she hugged their necks and thanked them.

Patty, 33, also was overcome with emotion when she spoke of what Toys of Joy meant to her and her three children.

“I just lost my job a month ago. It’s just unbelievable that I can do this for my kids,” said the former customer service representative as she fought back tears.

“This is why we do this,” said Batt, with tears in her own eyes as she reached out to hug Patty. “It’s beautiful. I want to cry.”

Salvation Army Capt. Erica Helton said families who still need assistance can contact her office in the next two days.

To contact the Salvation Army in Carson City, call 887-9120.