It was through Devine inspiration that created the Last-Minute Toy Shop. The new program is set to provide gifts from newborns to late teenagers, and has been made possible by volunteerism and community support.
The founder of the Last-Minute Toy Shop, Angie Meadows, said she was inspired last Christmas season after watching a news report.
“I was getting ready for work and saw a story on one of the Nashville TV stations about the Last-Minute Toy Store that they do in Davidson County,” Meadows explained. “It was started by a pastor of a church, and while I was watching I just clearly heard the Lord say, ‘We can do this here (DeKalb).’ That’s how it started.”
“I contacted four or five friends that are always there to help the community. I then contacted Sheriff (Patrick) Ray and asked if the Sheriff’s Department would do a toy drive for us. I contacted Chief Donny Green with DeKalb Fire and asked him, and also the Alexandria Police Department. I just kind of went from there,” Meadows said.
“I did not ask the Smithville Police Department because Cash Express does a toy, food, and coat drive with them, that provides for kids that they have come across in need. I didn’t want to interfere with what they were already doing.”
Meadows said that afterwards she announced the program on social media, and asked people to watch for when the Christmas wrap and boxes went on clearance, for us to use the next holiday. “We were already planning for the 2023 Christmas season.”
“In that time, we’ve been collecting items. We are registered with the State of Tennessee as a non-profit organization, and we held our first fundraiser before Easter this year, called Egg My Yard. We made around $300. Me and Barbara Ann (Ervin) bought the eggs and the candy.”
“We did another fundraiser in May and raised about $700, selling donated items from our houses. We held a Father’s Day golf tournament, and the local businesses really helped by sponsoring it. We certainly hope they do that again this upcoming year,” Meadows continued.
“We did another fundraiser in September, a chili soup supper and auction, and again businesses really helped by donating items for the auction.”
Meadows said that through the decline of one organization, that another was born. “I was a member of the Smithville Business and Professionals Women’s Club, and we decided to dissolve the club. We were all just so busy and we couldn’t keep members. We dissolved the club and the few members that were left joined us at the Last-Minute Toy Shop. Right now, we have about 12 to 15 regular volunteers helping. We have meetings once each month and have our whole year planned out for 2024. We have some really good fundraisers planned.”
“We’ve used our fundraising money to buy items for ages birth to 18, if they are still in school,” Meadows explained. “Other programs stop at earlier ages and the teens don’t get anything. We are using our funds to buy bikes, a few TVs, hoverboards, tents and camping gear, fishing equipment, and things for teenagers. But we have lots of toys and gifts for the younger children too.”
Meadows said that it was through the help of the Sheriff’s Department and local businesses that the program has been successful. “The Sheriff’s Department held their toy drive in November and it was great. The community really responded and helped. They did it at Walmart and the manager, Steve, brought out two buggies of gifts for the older kids. I think we received about 300+ toys there, and well over $1,000, which we used to purchase gifts. The DeKalb County Volunteer Fired Department was set to do a toy drive, but I had them cancel it due to bad weather being predicted.”
“At the Festival of Trees last week, the 23 trees received 705 gifts for the children. Overall, we have received over 1,500 gifts and stocking stuffers.”
Meadows said that kids, who have not received help from anyone else, will get three gifts, unless it’s a big-ticket item like a bike or TV. Children who have received help from another organization will get two gifts. All will received stocking stuffers, along with a Bible and each family will received one board or card game. To register, families had to provide proof of the children and DeKalb County residence. Next year’s number of gifts may change depending upon how many are collected.
“I don’t want to say this if for underprivileged families, because these days some parents just need help. There are single parents struggling to pay bills, working every day and putting food on the table, but they have nothing extra. And there are grandparents raising their grandchildren. It’s just the reality of our times. This is to help those families and children through tough times,” Meadows said.
Parents, guardians, and grandparents will be shopping this Saturday for over 200 children. They have been given an appointment and will have personal shoppers to help them.
“We are here to help during the hardest time of the year. The Lord laid this on my heart and I am not going to question Him. We want this to continue for many years to come giving Him all of the glory. We hope the community and businesses continue to help us.”