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Toy giveaway Saturday at New Salisbury church

Toy giveaway Saturday at New Salisbury church
Toy giveaway Saturday at New Salisbury church
Epiphany Lutheran Church members arrange toys for a giveaway Saturday at the New Salisbury church. From left are Steve Phieler, Susan Pennington, Ted Pennington, Harold Gardner and Jenny Gardner. The boxes in the background are also full of toys and more are stored in another area. Photo by Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

Epiphany Lutheran Church has long worked to make a positive difference in the community. That has included providing Thanksgiving food baskets to families of children in need at North Harrison Community School Corp. where member Jenny Gardner is employed.

It now is poised to have a significant impact on local families, just in time for Christmas.

The church will host a toy giveaway Saturday.

This isn’t just a few toys; it’s hundreds of toys.

It all came about through a friend of Epiphany Lutheran member Steve Phieler, who introduced him to a new friend. This friend is associated with Child Spirit Inc., a Louisville-based outreach and relief organization. Child Spirit had extra toys it wanted to see go to make Christmas brighter for struggling families.

Epiphany Lutheran members said they could help with that. They just didn’t realize at the time exactly how much they’d be helping.

Phieler said when he saw the volume of merchandise being given to his church to distribute, “I couldn’t even speak. They just kept telling me ‘Take it, take it’.”

Phieler was given two 18-foot trailers full of toys for boys and girls.

“I was floored,” said Gardner. “I’m really excited about it.”

Late last week, members unloaded box after box of toys and began planning how to get them to those who could use them to make their family’s Christmas merrier. They decided to use the church building, establishing a one-way traffic flow. Those who come to pick items up will enter the church, be directed through a distribution room where they will choose what they need and exit back into the parking lot through another door.

Gardner said facial masks are required and social distancing will be enforced. A limited number of people will be allowed inside at a time.

There are so many boxes of toys that they wouldn’t all fit into the distribution room. Items will be replenished throughout the day.

Parents can choose from items for both boys and girls from preschool age through about sixth grade, said Gardner. The choices include Hess trucks, sleeping bags, umbrellas, story books, stuffed animals and decorative items.

The giveaway will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the church, located north of New Salisbury along S.R. 135.

Epiphany Lutheran currently has about 20 members attending Sunday services.

Gardner praised the congregation for immediately getting on board with the toy project.

“We’re pretty small, but we can do a lot when we need to,” she said.

Members stressed they want anyone who could benefit to come Saturday, noting the negative impact COVID-19 has had on many area residents.

“We don’t want people to be afraid to come. We aren’t checking anything; they don’t need to be embarrassed,” she stressed. “There’s no judgment. I really want people to come.”