MANCHESTER, NH – Celebrating 10 years of Christmas joy, sponsors, donors and friends of Tower of Toys gathered at the stately Beacon building Thursday to toast its best year yet. A record number of gifts were donated that will be distributed this weekend to families in need.
“From pallets of toys from a generous sponsor to a single gift dropped off earlier today in a bag by a woman who just wanted to help, it’s been an incredible outpouring,” said Amanda Wihby, Red Arrow Diner co-owner and Chief Operations Officer. The Red Arrow is a corporate sponsor of the annual event, along with Angels Sewing and Quilting, the Beacon Building, Colliers, Cross Insurance, Dick Pratte Cabinetry, Downdog Flow Yoga & Pilates, Flexecution, Inc., JDS Flooring, Just Flow Events & Marketing, Melanson, and NHCiborCares.
Last year despite COVID restrictions and protocols, Tower of Toys collected a total of 2,500 presents, $1,400 in gift cards, and $15,600 in monetary donations – used to purchase additional gifts – for a total of 1,500 children served. This year’s effort will go even further to brighten the Christmas holiday for local families in need.
One of the unique aspects of Tower of Toys is that anyone can come and receive a gift, said Wihby.
“There’s no registration, no appointments, no questions asked,” Wihby said during Thursday’s open house cocktail hour which was a public “thank you” to all those who have been part of the community effort. Light refreshments were served at the Atrium at the Beacon Building and visitors could view the many dolls, action figures, board games, stuffed animals, electronics and other items that have been so generously donated by local residents in the spirit of the season.
Donations were also received from many local organizations, including Kiwanis Club of Manchester. Incoming President Marilyn Charbonneau, who attended Thursday’s open house, said they were able to make a generous donation of toys thanks to their connection with a local retailer.
In addition to those families who will arrive this weekend to walk in and select a gift that’s right for their child, gifts will also be distributed to kids at Spaulding Academy & Family Services and Webster House.
The community effort becomes the gift for those who organize the effort.
The idea came from Larry Thibodeau, of Flexecution, whose business office is at the Beacon. He presented the idea of filling the atrium with toys for local kids to building owner Brian Lawrence, and from there, many other business tenants, friends and family got involved, including Thibodeau’s wife Amy; Carol Lawrence, co-owner of the Red Arrow and Angel Sewing; and Brian’s wife Laurie Lawrence. Ten years later they all continue to go the extra mile to make sure each year is more successful than the last.
“There will be many wishes coming true this year,” Wihby said. “You see it in their eyes as they walk through and find just the right gift for their child or children.”
Those in need should arrive at the Beacon Building, 814 Elm St., Saturday Dec. 18 or Sunday, December 19, from between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. To request donations, please send a private message to www.facebook.com/toweroftoysnh/ prior to pick-up dates, or fill out this contact form.