Every Christmas, MUST Ministries sets up two locations, one in Cobb County and one in Cherokee County, to provide a retail store environment for parents to shop for free items. The MUST Toy Shops are a special treat for families who often have little to nothing for their children to open on Christmas morning, but it’s more than something “extra”. It’s an essential.
“Our shops offer throw blankets, pajamas, underwear, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, school supplies and other necessary items,” according to Paula Rigsby, Seasonal Coordinator at MUST. “We’ve had parents come in who just want the blankets because they have no heat.”
This year, there is a new twist to the dilemma of collecting enough items for more than 3,000 children.
“We’ve been told we will be the only agency in Cobb offering gifts for babies and for teens age 16-18. Any family with a child those ages will have to come to MUST for help, so that means they will probably register their whole family with us,” Rigsby explained. “We always have a challenge to collect teen items, so we expect more teens this year and will need additional donations.”
Another challenge is getting dolls of all ethnicities.
“A little girl usually prefers a doll that looks like her,” said Paula Rigsby. The Toy Shop can also use books and games in Spanish. MUST is hoping the community will remember the teens with gifts like jewelry, cologne/perfume, curling irons, blow dryers, jeans, boots, vests, jackets, books, wallets, sports equipment, bikes, belts, purses, watches and handheld games. All items for the Cobb shop can be taken to the MUST Donation Center at 55 Chastain Road, Suite 110, Kennesaw Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm.
In addition, MUST will distribute dolls, trucks, stuffed animals and other toys. For babies, MUST is requesting an open box covered in Christmas wrapping paper and filled with at least 7 baby items like bibs, burp clothes, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups and other necessities.
“It’s the perfect group project,” Rigsby pointed out. “Get together with your neighbors, Sunday School class, scout troop or civic organization and create baby boxes!”
Open for 14 days in December, the shops provide personal shoppers to assist parents in making their selections and volunteers who stock the shelves, provide check in and check out, help load cars and unload donations. This year, the Cobb Toy Shop will again be at Piedmont Church, 570 Piedmont Road in Marietta/East Cobb. For more information about ways to help, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Toy Shops open December 9.