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The shelves are stocked with oodles of stuffed animals and a few baby dolls and other items in between but, with some bare spots still left, there's only enough toys at Rooftop of Virginia's toy shop to make it through the first week when it opens Nov. 29.
Rooftop of Virginia's annual toy shop, which relies on donated toys, provides a chance for low-income families to purchase new and gently-used toys at a discounted rate. Rooftop of Virginia then uses the proceeds to buy more toys.
On the last two days the toy shop is open, Dec. 15 and 16, toys are provided to families at no charge.
All families are eligible to receive toys — as long as proof is provided that children are living at the home, either by presenting birth certificates or social security cards. But, there is a limit on the amount of toys that can be purchased. Depending on the amount of donations that are received, that limit is still being determined.
For some clients, the toys purchased at Rooftop of Virginia's toy shop are the only toys their children will receive.
“They say that without Rooftop, there is no other way they would be able to provide toys to their children at Christmas,” said Tabitha Houk, public relations manager/planner at Rooftop. “For some, these toys will be the only ones that will be under their tree on Christmas morning.”
If enough toys are received to stay open through the season, Rooftop of Virginia will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until Dec. 16.
Houk said she is expecting the amount of shoppers to increase two-fold above last year, which brought in a steady flow of clients and packed the toy shop on the two free days.
“Our hope is to last through both the free days,” said Houk. “For now, that is all we can hope for. This is one of the most needed programs Rooftop has because everyone wants to provide for their child.”
Many of the toy shop customers are clients at Rooftop's Head Start program, which provides pre-school classes for children of low-income families. However, there are a slew of others in the community that also benefit from the toy shop, said Houk.
“Some clients are only living on $500 a month, and they're having to provide a Christmas meal and pay high electric bills during the cold months. It gets hard for them to purchase toys for their children.”
Houk said she is hoping to get schools, businesses and individuals involved in donating toys. “If people need to clean out their toys to make room for new ones, then they can bring their gently-used toys here instead of throwing them out.”
Last year, the shelves were completely empty. However, if it weren't for Williams Physical Therapy and some other businesses taking on a toy drive for Rooftop, “we wouldn't have been able to make it,” said Houk, noting that Rooftop accepts donations year-round.
Most toys that are donated seem to be geared towards children between the ages of five and 10, but she asks donors to keep in mind toys for babies, toddlers and tweens.
Now, the toy shop has plenty of stuffed animals but is in need of toys for every age group, including items such as puzzles and books, to help fill some of those bare spots.
• Donations can be made at Rooftop of Virginia, located at 206 N. Main St. in downtown Galax. For more information, call 236-7131, ext. 234.