So. Many. Stuffed. Animals. Can you give us a hand?
It’s the most wonderful day of the year! This past Friday, we did our Toys for Tots shopping and we thought it would be fun to do a little recap and show you how your extremely generous contributions (amounting to $28,700 in total!) made a difference to Albuquerque families this year.
On Friday morning, we got a recommendation for a great local toy store, so we decided to share the love and headed to “Out of the Blue.” We were so happy with their selection of high-quality, made in the USA, and harder to find toys. The staff was terrific and they even gave us a discount when they found out that we were shopping for Toys for Tots.
Our first stop in Albuquerque to buy local.
We probably should have given a little more thought to our transportation options beforehand, because the car was packed to the gills as we headed to Toys R Us to start the BIG shop and meet up with First Sgt. Finney and a couple of the Marine volunteers.
After 4 years of shopping for Toys for Tots, our system of moving through the store has continued to get better and better. But, without fail, we still get excited and totally distracted when we first step inside. SO. MANY. TOYS. We all have our jobs to keep us focused though. Or at least, I have my job and it involves wrangling Luc as he bounces around the store, and keeping a running tally of toy costs so I can make sure we’re in the generallllll ballpark. 50 LEGO sets? No Problem. 20 American Girl Dolls? We’ve got a long way to go before we hit our limit.
We filled a couple carts with American Girl dolls. Luc was so excited he didn’t know what to do with his hands.
This year, we were lucky enough to have the help of our good friend Joe from Scout Leather.
One of the main reasons we like to do the shopping ourselves is because we look for high-quality items that will last kids a long time. Additionally, the Marines have a $29.95 cap per toy when purchasing, but we don’t…so, we can buy some of the really special larger gifts that are great for families or foster homes, churches, etc. Joe was eager to buy a Power Wheels for the kids and when we tallied the final amount raised this year we decided to buy 8 knowing that would make a very happy Christmas for a few families.
The boys wish they had Power Wheels too.
Luc grew up on bikes, and if I ever lose him in the aisles, I know where to find him. He takes a lot of care and consideration in picking out bikes that he thinks little kids and teenagers will love and be able to use for a long time. In the past we’ve only been able to buy a couple bikes. This year, we bought over a dozen.
A few of the bikes and Power Wheels we bought.
Trying on helmets. All sass.
When families register for Toys for Tots they disclose the number of children that they have, whether they have boys or girls, and how old they. The kids that are the hardest to buy for (as you might imagine) are the teens ages 14-16. In the past, our limited budget hasn’t really allowed us to buy a large number of gifts that would really be fun for those older kids, and we knew that there were 17 this year whose parents would be coming to the distribution center. Between a couple awesome bikes, and a STACK of tablets, we were able to totally take care of that demographic.
Luc with his stack of tablets for the teenagers.
Because the Cypop for Tots contribution was SO big this year, we were able to take care of Albuquerque families, and also fill a trailer full of toys for a neighboring town whose drive had fallen behind.
Luc stands in front of one of the trailers filled with toys.
In total, all the shopping took about 6 hours. At least 45 minutes of that time was spent in the checkout line with the friendly and gracious staff at Toys R Us. Afterward, we went over to the Toys for Tots distribution center and helped the Marines and volunteers unload the truck. Joe took a time lapse video to show you the fun.
Luc brought 5 of the special stamped Cypops made this year for the Marines. We also grabbed our annual shot of the receipt with Sgt. Finney. It’s not a lot longer than last year’s, but with the purchase of a lot of bigger ticket items, it’s much more dense.
Luc and First Sgt. Finney stretch the receipt in the distribution center.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all your generous contributions to this year’s Cypop for Tots raffle. Toys for Tots is so much more than just giving toys to kids in need, it’s about delivering hope to families at Christmas time. We love being part of this mission, and being able to do this every year. But, it wouldn’t be possible for us to do it without your support. We wish you a happy holiday season and joyful New Year.
With Admiration and Gratitude,Lucas + Maddie