Schwarzwald Lutheran Church holds toy drive for local families
Some places in the community have chosen to embrace the spirit of giving during the holidays.
Schwarzwald Lutheran Church hosted a toy drive on Tuesday, Dec. 14, to help Exeter Food Pantry families during the holiday season. Parents who would normally not be able to afford presents had the chance to get toys for their children free-of-charge.
“The real church is outside,” said Pastor Scott Staub, who started and organized the event. “I think the more you help the people in the community, the less they’re worried about whether or not they’ll eat that day, or if they’ll have housing, or clothing to keep them warm.”
When Pastor Staub decided to help for the Exeter Food Pantry, he had reached out to various local organizations to help donate almost 2,000 toys for a toy drive that would assist parents in affording Christmas gifts. The food bank, which services over 275 families, gave flyers to their patrons in midNovember advertising the drive.
“If you want something to be successful, you need to have a cause. So our cause, I figured with the area churches and businesses, would be to help out the Exeter Food Pantry families,” said Staub.
Sally Sassman, public relations manager for the church, mentioned that there were approximately 300 phone calls from families concerning the drive, however only around 50 families showed up to collect toys. Despite the low turnout, she described the event as a “great outpouring of gift-giving.”
As guests arrived, they were greeted at the door, and had the opportunity to listen to Christmas music in the sanctuary before shuffling into the next room filled with tables and boxes filled with toys.
“It was important to the pastor to have the people come into the sanctuary and have some quiet time before they shopped,” said volunteer Barbara Quick, who is also a member of the church. “There was Christmas music playing in the background, and people were sitting and reflecting.”
Another volunteer and member of the church, Carol Gunzelmann, was happy the church could help families in need a little extra during the holidays.
“We knew we weren’t supplying all of their Christmas gifts, but we are at least helping them out so their kids could have nice things,” she said.
During services at Schwarzwald Lutheran, Pastor Staub talks about something he likes to call “The Ripple Effect” — that the value of helping the community is comparable to ripples after dropping a stone in the water.
He explained that it is why he put so much effort into organizing the toy drive, as well as a clothing drive earlier this year for Eric’s Angel’s, a fundraiser for veterans.
“You make the immediate impact where you’re at, then it ripples out from there” said Staub. “If you make sure the people in your community are thriving, that allows them to give and help out others outside the community.”
Volunteers Lauren Smith and Nancy Hess-Smith assisted guests during the toy drive at Schwarzwald Lutheran Church.
Schwarzwald Lutheran Church, along with other local organizations, collected more than 2,000 toys for families in need in the Exeter area.