Stories of Volunteers

He apologized several times for being dirty . . .

As a regular volunteer at the center, Barbara decided that she would give her spare time to the toy store one Christmas.  She worked as a greeter, welcoming the guests and making them feel comfortable with the store.  She volunteered on the day that the store reaches out to Hispanics in the community, and she enjoyed interacting with the guests and getting to know them.

“I really enjoyed being a greeter, and that’s what I would want to do again,” Barbara said.

As guests continued to arrive, Barbara welcomed one man who had just come from working at a construction site.  He had come straight from work to ensure that his children would have a Christmas.

“He apologized several times for being dirty, and went in the back to wash up as much as he could,” Barbara said.  “I was amazed at how grateful he was for what we were doing.”

Both this man and his wife accepted Jesus that day. The love that the staff showed them led to the eternal love that will comfort and sustain them through every Christmas.

“They were just so thankful,” Barbara said.

Families are just regular people . . .

One Christmas Fred was hit with the reality that the families who are ministered to at Toy Store for Jesus are just regular people.

Fred clearly remembers meeting the woman who helped him understand this reality.  She and her husband had just moved to North Carolina for her husband’s job, away from their family who lived out of state.  Her husband lost his job three months after they moved.

“She had no job, had nothing,” Fred said. “They had good jobs, and uncontrollable circumstances brought them here.  If it hadn’t been for the toy store, they wouldn’t have had a Christmas.”

She couldn’t stop thanking everyone at the store, and Fred remembers how grateful she was for the people who had cared enough to give them toys.

“The thing that I noticed the most is that these people are just like me,” Fred said.  “That could easily be me in that situation.”

Fred firmly believes that the gospel is the single most important part of the store, and he knows that showing Jesus’ love means everything.

“Knowing that they’re there to hear the gospel, that’s what really impacts me,” Fred said.

Often, the toy store reaches people at a time when they need it most . . . sometimes when they are at the end of their own strength.

Just hours before a young lady died expectantly, Don got to speak with her at the toy store.  As a counselor, Don was able to share that Jesus loved her.

“I feel very comfortable that she’s now in heaven,” Don said.

The young lady’s grandparents were not sure at the time where she stood in her faith, but Don’s conversation with her assured him that she knew Jesus.  In a time of tragedy, God used Don’s conversation to bring peace to the young lady’s family.

In another situation, God used the counseling at the toy store to reach a woman who had decided life wasn’t worth much anymore.

“I was able to counsel a lady that was contemplating suicide,” Don said.

Don prayed with her, counseled her, and gave her resources in the community that could help.  The woman did not commit suicide, and Don is thankful that God used him to intervene in her life when she was feeling desperate and unloved.

“That was very powerful,” Don said.

Taking the time to care . . .

Many times, the ministry of the toy store extends even beyond providing children with toys for Christmas, as Jana experience when she was able to show the love of Jesus to one of the guests in an extremely practical, life-changing way.

“There was a mom who had just split up with her husband, and she didn’t have a job,” Jana said.

As they talked, Jana began to help the woman think through how to get a job.  Jana tried to give her tips about how to get an interview, where to take her resume, and how to dress.

“By the end of December, she was working in Wal-Mart and had a job,” Jana said. “I was so happy for her.”

Jana firmly believes that the most important aspect of the store is that each family hears the gospel, and she made a huge difference in someone’s life just by taking the time to care.

Relieving the stress of the Christmas season . . .

The families who come to the toy store come from many places and backgrounds, but all of them are thankful that they can give their children a wonderful Christmas.

Louise remembers one especially appreciative grandmother who was the primary caregiver for her grandchildren and didn’t know what Christmas would be like without the toy store.

In the midst of the grandmother’s struggle to care for all of her grandchildren, the toy store was able to ease her burden, relieving the stress of the Christmas season and bringing joy to her family.

No one should be hopeless on Christmas . . .

It’s difficult to be in a situation of losing everything, but no one should be hopeless on Christmas.

The couple was foreign to being in the position of needing help to provide for their family, but this Christmas, Melanie could see that Toy Store for Jesus was just what they needed.  Melanie learned that they had moved to North Carolina from New York, and had lost everything after they moved.

“The husband was just so humble and thankful,” Melanie said. “He couldn’t believe that someone would do this for them.”