Marysville's Toy Store serves record number of local children, families during holiday season | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — Elizabeth Bensch arrived at the old Dunn Lumber building in her camouflage uniform on Friday, Dec. 16, to make sure her children could celebrate the holidays.

“I’m shopping for four kids,” said Bensch, a first-term Navy enlistee who’s been serving at Naval Station Everett since January of this year. “Dad stays at home to look after them so that I can be the worker bee.”

Bensch’s husband had to quit his former job before he and his wife moved to the area, and he hasn’t been able to find work since.

“We just want to make sure the Santa gifts are all there,” said Bensch, whose children were among the more than 1,100 served by the Marysville Toy Store this year.

“The Marysville Toy Store served about 800 kids last year, said Sue Kendall, who co-chairs the Toy Store with Bonnie Ramsey. “This year, we served 822 kids from 265 families on Friday, and 265 kids from 94 families on Saturday. That’s an increase of about 200 kids since last year, and a total of almost 360 families served between the Toy Store’s two days this year.”

While all the families interviewed made it clear that they would have done their best to keep the economy from affecting their children, they all acknowledged how tough that would have been without the Marysville Toy Store. While some first-time Toy Store customers, such as Nancy Klein, have only been on unemployment for a few months, others have had to tighten their belts for far longer.

“I’ve been unemployed for a year,” said Jamie King, who shopped on Dec. 16 for her six children. “Even with my husband working full-time, it’s hard to find a job when you’re raising six kids. Even if I did get employed, I’d just be working to pay for their day care.”

Kendall and Ramsey credited a host of organizations and individuals with making the Marysville Toy Store possible, and not just by chipping in for toys. The Zumiez store in Quil Ceda Village provided jackets, blankets, hats, gloves and socks, while the Marysville Noon Rotary purchased 100 gift certificates for the movies, worth $25 each, which Kendall explained served a useful purpose to the Toy Store’s customer families, in addition to keeping them entertained.

“That’s enough for two kids from each family to go to the movies, which the parents were ecstatic about because it gave them a chance to get the kids out of the house so they could wrap their presents,” Kendall said.

Among those who also donated $500 or more to this year’s Marysville Toy Store were the Marysville Chapter of Soroptimist International, Fred Meyer and the city of Marysville, with Kmart and St. Mary’s Catholic Church also contributing significantly to the cause.

“Dunn Lumber donated the building, which was vital,” said Ramsey, who noted the number of businesses in town that hosted “giving trees” for the Marysville Toy Store. “The community’s response has been overwhelming. It’s come alive with all these people who have shown support for each other.”

Those people included more than 200 volunteers at this year’s Marysville Toy Store, many of them area high school students.

“We used up just about everything this year,” Ramsey said.

“And it all went to Marysville children,” Kendall said.


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