DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With God’s Grace food pantry is for the sixth year, stepping in to make sure children in the Miami Valley have a memorable Christmas through their annual toy drive.

Nicole Adkins, executive director of the organization, said the staff plans to convert their free grocery store into Santa’s workshop, where local children will have the opportunity to meet jolly old Saint Nick, but first, they have to collect enough toys to distribute. 

“The kids get to shop with Santa and the elves that will be present to be able to pick out their own toy from Santa’s workshop,” she said. Right now we have 892 kids [signed up], but it’s looking like it’s going to be almost 1,000 children that we’re going to be providing toys for.”

To approximate the amount of gifts they will need to collect, With God’s Grace posted a sign-up link on their Facebook page. While they’ve already received some donations, Adkins said they’re going to need a lot more to put a smile on all of the kids’ faces this holiday season. 

“We are about 300 to 400ish toys short,” she said. 

To make collection easier, they are holding a donation drive Saturday, December 18 at Vandalia Nazarene Church. Adkins said they are requesting that the toys dropped off are new and unwrapped, and are suitable for children between 1 year old and 12 years old. However, they are most in need of presents for the older children.

“The age category that we are struggling getting toys for is between the 7 to 12-year-old range,” said Adkins. “It seems like…this is the area that’s most needed, but area [donors] have not been giving the most of.”

She said some examples of gifts for this range may include items like Legos, gaming accessories, dolls, crafts and animals. And after spending the year getting to know families and the various reasons they may be facing food insecurity or financial struggles, she said Christmas is a time children should be able enjoy regardless of those difficulties.

“So many families are struggling just to put food on the table and Christmas is one of the items that they do cancel. And birthdays is another one,” said Adkins. They cancel them because it’s not affordable. But then you’re taking [away] something from a child. You’re taking out the belief of Santa. When you have a Christmas and Santa does not bring a toy, or you [were] not able to go to a location to see Santa…then you’re taking the joy from a child. And this is about giving that little bit of joy back to a child within our community.”

Donations will be collected this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., or they can be dropped off this Thursday or Friday at 5505 North Dixie from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Adkins said there are no specific requirements to sign your children up to receive toys, however, all signed-up children must be present the day of the toy pickup and parents must have each child’s birth certificate and present an ID. 

Staff is asking that families who cannot make it to the pickup cancel on the sign-up website ahead of time in order to give others a chance to get gifts. 

Sign ups will end at midnight, December 18.

The families can pick up toys at With God’s Grace free grocery store at 5505 North Dixie Drive in Northridge, Ohio. 

To sign your child up to receive a gift, click here.