MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Community Food Bank and Toy Store teamed up for another holiday season to help families in need celebrate with festive favorites on their dinner plates and gifts to give each other.
As of Wednesday, Dec. 19, Marysville Community Food Bank Director Dell Deierling reported that the Food Bank had served Christmas meal baskets to 396 families on Monday, Dec. 17, and Tuesday, Dec. 18.
“We served 560 families over the course of three days for Christmas last year,” Deierling said on Dec. 19. “With only one day of service left for this year, we may have a big day on Friday [Dec. 21].”
Deierling anticipated that the number of families receiving Christmas meal baskets from the Food Bank would increase this year because the Food Bank already served Thanksgiving meal baskets to 8 percent more families this year, from 665 families last year to 716 families this year.
At the same time, Deierling praised the Marysville community for stepping up its food donations to try and meet this increased need. While the food donations from food drives, private donations and red barrels around town added up to approximately 83,600 pounds of food from the month of October through Dec. 17 of last year, this year’s food donations from the same time period amounted to 95,000 pounds of food.
“Way to go, Marysville,” Deierling said. “There are so many major contributors to those donations that I can’t mention them all, but our secret weapon was the students in the school district. They were responsible for bringing in 18,270 pounds of food. What a force.”
Kelly Mui, a senior at the Arts & Technology High School in Marysville, began volunteering at the Marysville Community Food Bank a month before its Christmas meal basket distribution, and she’s already found it a broadening experience.
“It’s nice to know that I can help make a difference,” Mui said, before laughing, “I can do better stuff than just sitting down and watching TV.”
Emyly Hall, a junior at Marysville Pilchuck High School, likewise appreciated getting “a different perspective on other people’s lives” by volunteering at the Toy Store on Wednesday, Dec. 19, and Thursday, Dec. 20.
“My family has all its needs met, so it’s humbling to see how good we have it, especially during the holidays,” Hall said. “You appreciate what you have a lot more.”
Bonnie Ramsey and Sue Kendall, who are time-tested veterans at co-chairing the Toy Store by now, reflected on the Toy Store’s progress since its inception in 1983.
“We’ve grown maybe 10 percent each year,” Kendall said. It’s still a challenge to meet the needs of certain age groups such as teenagers, but we’ve evolved into a smother running operation as we’ve gotten guidelines into place and pulled together.”
“Instead of having 10 different organizations each doing their own holiday toy stores for families in need, we’ve pooled our resources and stayed within our own ZIP code,” Ramsey said. “If If I tried to name all the businesses schools and churches that have contributed, I’d leave someone out, because it’s just about all of them.”
Ramsey nonetheless noted that Marysville Rotarians provided 300 tickets each for movies and for the Skate Inn in Marysville, while local Kiwanians served up hot chocolate and Zumiez in Tulalip donated enough winter coats that each family could take two, even with an estimated 1,150 shoppers at the Toy Store over the course of its two days this year.
“The Kingdom of Life Church opened its whole building to us, and heated it too,” Ramsey said. “Kmart gave us 10 percent shopping discounts, and volunteers are even managing our parking. In turn, we’re offering indoor child care for all out shoppers, so that no kids are left in cars.”
“The holidays can be hard if you don’t have a lot of money,” Toy Store shopper Theresa Theders said. “I’m a single mother on a tight income, but this lets me put a little bit more under the tree this Christmas.”