“It’s the only thing he’s been asking for. I can’t believe you have one.”

“This is exactly what she wanted!”

“All of his friends have bikes. He will be so happy!”

Again and again, relieved parents spotted that perfect gift, the one that would make Christmas morning a joyous affair for their children. Before today, many of them had no gifts to put under the tree, no toys to put in stockings.

Thanks to The Salvation Army Toy Shop, over 800 families are having the merry Christmas that they thought would never come.

Toy Shop is the culmination of a month-long collaboration between The Salvation Army, our toy collection partners and hundreds of volunteers. In addition to bins all around the metro area, WISH-TV holds special collection events for its WISH Tree toy drive, which brings in thousands of toys for Toy Shop.

During the second annual Tweet for Toys, WISH-TV and Salvation Army employees chased down tweets requesting them to pick up donated toys at locations across the metro area. In just a few hours they’d collected 2,181 toys! Added to toys from WISH Tree locations like Huntington Bank and Ed Martin Automotive, the Indiana National Guard, the Circle City Toy Run and our 130-plus collection sites, over 8,700 toys were donated this year.

In the days leading up to Toy Shop, Two Men and a Truck gathered the toys, volunteers counted and sorted them, and the tables were filled with trucks, dolls, science kits, sports equipment, board games and craft kits.

On the day of the event, with the help of over 200 volunteers, moms and dads walked through the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds looking for the perfect toys for their children. Each family first chose a board game so that they could enjoy Family Game Night in 2014, then picked out two to three toys for each child and bags of stocking stuffers. At the end they were handed a special surprise: a free turkey for Christmas dinner, courtesy of Kroger.

As the shoppers left Toy Shop with their treasures, the joy of the Christmas season was clear on their faces. Thanks to the generosity of our community, more  than 2,100 kids in central Indiana will have a very merry Christmas this year!