By Jami Makan
Donations are needed for a holiday gift assistance program that allows families with limited financial resources to buy Christmas presents for their children at significantly reduced prices. Families in the Blaine school district who qualify for free and reduced lunch can register for the program at blainecap.org before December 1.
The Community Toy Store is a program sponsored by the Community Assistance Program (CAP), a non-profit organization supported by local churches. Through this initiative, brand new toys and gift cards are donated by community members, and prices are marked down 75 to 90 percent. During the second week of December, toys are arranged in a store-like setting where parents can shop, choosing several gifts per child. A gift-wrapping station will also be available.
A similar program has been operating successfully in Bellingham for over 10 years, and CAP began its Blaine/Birch Bay program in 2018. Proceeds from CAP’s toy sales will be distributed to non-profit organizations that work with families in the local area.
“The program provides a hand up instead of a handout for families facing difficult financial circumstances,” said CAP volunteer Laura Vogee. “This model empowers parents, giving them the joy and dignity of personally providing gifts for their own children, as well as being contributors to their community.”
CAP is seeking donations of new, good quality toys for children ages two to 12. Toys should be in the $25 to $75 range. Some ideas for toy donations include Lego sets, building blocks, action figures, scooters, book sets, arts and crafts kits and musical toys. Launching Success, an educational supply store and toy store located in Bellingham, is offering a 15 percent discount on purchases for the Community Toy Store – just tell them at checkout.
In addition to toys, CAP is seeking donations of $25 gift cards for teens. Gift cards can be for stores such as Old Navy, American Eagle, Barnes & Noble, Regal Cinemas, Best Buy, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabrics, Ross, TJ Maxx, Ulta Beauty and Sephora.
Donations should not be gift-wrapped. If possible, please attach a note to your donations listing their retail prices. Donations can be dropped off at various locations in Blaine and Birch Bay. For a complete listing of drop off locations, visit blainecap.org. Donations will be accepted starting on Friday, November 15 and the donation deadline is Friday, December 6.
“It’s lots of fun to shop the sales for great toys that will delight a child, knowing that your donation blesses not only the child receiving it, but many others served by the organizations receiving the proceeds,” said Vogee.