Great response to toy swap

Tamah Alley and Jayden Cromb hug-test some of the toys donated for the toy swap free-for-all...
Tamah Alley and Jayden Cromb hug-test some of the toys donated for the toy swap free-for-all organised by Mrs Alley to help Alexandra families needing a hand to give their children a fun Christmas. PHOTO: JULIE ASHER
Free toys sounds like a Christmas miracle but it was no fantasy last week when a room full of free toys was on offer in Alexandra.

Organiser Tamah Alley, who chairs the Vincent Community Board and is also a Central Otago district councillor, said she wanted to take some of the stress out of Christmas for families.

People were invited to drop off good quality toys earlier in the week and then on Friday the toys were offered free-for-all to anyone who wanted them.

The quantity and quality of the donations was amazing, Mrs Alley said.

There may not have been a kitchen sink but there was a baby bath.

Many toys still had tags on them and everything was in great condition.

Tables were set up with a huge array of toys from cuddly ones to puzzles, a bike to books.

There were toys for all ages and interests.

On Friday morning a large number of people came along to choose toys and most were amazed there was no donation or swap required.

"People really enjoy the chance to give something with out pressure."

Seeing people coming to pick up toys had revealed who in the community was finding things financially tough, she said.

"It’s everyone."

Toy wrangler Rosemary Diehl and the Alexandra Baptist Church, who gave the venue for the event, had made it possible and she was grateful to them, Mrs Alley said.

Fellow Vincent Community Board member Jayden Cromb said he enjoyed helping out at the event.

"I’ll be back next year," he said.

Two free-for-all sessions were run — one in the late morning and the other early evening — to give access to as many people as possible.

Any toys left after the evening opening on Friday evening would be taken to the Community Carols at Central Stories on December 9.