Mission Waco Christmas Toy Store opens for annual event

Mission Waco is opening its Christmas Toy Store on Dec. 2 to give parents a chance to buy discounted gifts for their children. Audrey La | Photographer

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Joyce Brammer, Mission Waco director of development, said the Christmas Toy Store has been occurring for over 20 years, with this year having the largest number of expected visitors.

“It has grown by leaps and bounds from starting in a small closet, if you will, to now we have distributed over 600 shopping passes this year to low-income parents,” Brammer said. “It is truly a blessing because the whole purpose of the toy store is to offer the shopping opportunity to low-income parents who cannot afford full retail prices on toys.”

Brammer said the inventory comes from donations and from toy purchases made by Mission Waco.

“We’ve spent close to $40,000 of Mission Waco money to start the inventory of toys so that we can honor the store for three days — 23 hours of shopping time for parents — and over and above that, we rely on the community to donate toys and bless the store with funds as well,” Brammer said.

From Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, Mission Waco will hold its Christmas Toy Store for parents who have received a shopping voucher. The store is a private event, only for those who have registered to shop through the store.

The Christmas Toy Store sells the toys “at an 80% retail discount,” its website read. Brammer said parents can walk away with as many as 12 items when they visit.

John Calaway, Mission Waco executive director, said they are excited to serve a larger number of people than they have served in the past.

“We’re really excited about being able to serve a significantly more amount of people than we have in the past, and we think that because of COVID and people still being out of work, there’s just a significant need,” Calaway said.

Calaway said the store is able to expand and serve the community due to the large group of unpaid volunteers who start working in October to make the project happen.

“The most exciting thing is being there when parents get to walk through the store and actually shop for their kids,” Calaway said. “We don’t get to see the parents give the gifts to the kids — that’s their joy — but our job is to get to see the parents shop for their kids.”

While volunteering has closed for the event, Calaway said people can still get involved by donating to the toy store.

“100% of the money goes to actually supplement the money we had to spend on buying toys, because we collect about $40,000 worth of toys, but we also have to purchase about $40,000 worth of toys,” Calaway said. “Even though the toy store is happening this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we spend all year trying to collect money to offset the cost of the toys we have already purchased this year and the toys we will buy next year.”