Are you wondering what to do with those toys from a couple years ago as Christmas approaches? If you’re not wondering about this, I would encourage you to think about it! One of my earliest memories is of my parents’ pre-Christmas policy: we had to give away a few toys from our collection each year before even thinking about asking for new ones. Sure, I probably remember it because it made my three-year-old self agonize over which toys to part with, but I wouldn’t trade that early association of Christmas and charity for all the toys in the world.
If you do find yourself looking for an avenue to give gently-used toys this Christmas, let me tell you about one you might not have heard of yet: East Texas Cornerstone Assistance Network. Cornerstone focuses their efforts on empowering families, allowing people to provide for their own families. One way they do this is through their store. Cornerstone takes new and gently used items and sets them up in a store, open to anyone looking for a good bargain but focused on those who might not be able to afford goods from a traditional store. They prioritize treating all people like customers (as opposed to clients) and giving them a joyful shopping experience, complete with attentive staff and beautifully furnished dressing rooms. They also use the store as a job training site for clients of their other ministries.
Around Christmas time, the Cornerstone Store turns their attention to toys and other gifts. They display donations and sell them for half of what the toys would cost at other stores, giving lower-income parents the opportunity to shop for their kids in a venue that helps restore dignity. You can check out their store at 200 N. Beckham in Tyler. Drop off a donation or two and browse their merchandise yourself!