Twenty-six thousand toys covered the steps of the MISD Center for the Performing Arts last December during the school district’s Toys for Tots event. This year, there could be even more.
“We’re not really even setting a goal,” said Lynn Wilkie, the center’s director of marketing. “If we get 12,000, that would be incredible. We’re trying to promote giving in the schools.”
When the center started the event in 2012, organizers hoped for at least a 1,000 toys, Wilkie said. They got 16,000, and then 20,000 in 2013.
“It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen,” she said. “It’s the most heartwarming event. It’s so humbling to see these schools raise money and get behind this.”
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And it’s fun.
Crews will dump 40,000 pounds of snow for a sledding hill, 24 local Starbucks will pass out free coffee and hot chocolate, Hawaiian Falls will hand out cotton candy and cookies for decorating, Top of Texas will be taking photos with Santa Claus and Texas Trust will have two reindeer on sight and help youngsters make food for Santa’s team. There will also be train rides, a pair of bounce houses and an obstacle course.
Students from all of the district’s schools will be out in force for the event, too, singing, dancing and helping.
“Every high school has a booth, Timberview does face painting and Summit helps kids make ornaments,” Wilkie said. “My favorite is Lake Ridge High, which does Santa letters and helps kids put them in a huge mailbox. Then they write the kids back.
Thirty to 40 student performances are also scheduled, inside and outside the center, from drill teams to elementary choirs and step teams, she said.
The event kicks off about 5 p.m. with a parade, led by the principals from the schools that rounded up the most toys and the school mascots. Mayor David Cook, firetrucks and school bands will follow. The mascots line up again about 9 p.m. for the annual foot race.
FFA members will have a petting zoo, students from Ben Barber Career Tech Academy have created a massive welded Christmas tree and reindeer and athletes will help youngsters on the sledding hill.
“There’s so much to do that people stay for hours,” Wilkie said.
So organizers have lined up food trucks to keep everyone fed.
Everything is free, except the food trucks, Wilkie said. Admission to the event is a new, unwrapped toy, which current and retired U.S. Marines in dress uniforms will collect and stand watch over.
“I just heard from the Marines, there is always a need,” Wilkie said. “They need gifts for girls age 6-10. They weren’t specific. They really like generic gifts, like art kits, coloring books with colors, activity-type books, puzzles and games, like Yahtzee, Jenga and Life that are good for all ages.”
Scooters and bicycles are good, too, she said, but try to remember to bring a helmet to go with it.
Toys for Tots
5-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9
MISD Center for the Performing Arts
1110 W. Debbie Lane