Willmar family giving toys a second lease on the holidays with toy swap – West Central Tribune

Willmar family giving toys a second lease on the holidays with toy swap - West Central Tribune


— Much like the Island of Misfit Toys from the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” holiday television special, Sarah and Jacob Miller of Willmar are giving some toys a second chance at finding a child to play with. The couple is running a community toy swap with assistance from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Willmar.

“We hope to be that little extra resource” that people can use this holiday season when trying to find gifts for children, Sarah said.

The Community Toy Swap will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 17 at the church, located at 300 26th Ave. N.E. in Willmar. Anyone is invited to come and pick up some toys at no charge and/or drop off gently used toys.

Sarah envisions parents finding presents for their kids, or perhaps siblings “shopping” for gifts for their brothers or sisters.

“People might have to pick through and find a treasure,” Sarah said.

The idea for the toy swap came after Myles, Gram and their mom, Sarah Miller, of Willmar, found a bunch of toys being given away on the curbside. The Miller family has been collecting toys for the swap for a few weeks.

Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

The couple is collecting toys for all ages, and hopes to have a good selection from which people can choose. A drop-off box for donations is also located at the church.

“If it gets full, my phone number is on the box,” Sarah said.

The idea for a toy swap was born out of a walk with the couple’s young sons, Myles and Gram. While walking in the neighborhood, they found someone giving away toys on the curb.

Sarah said Myles was super excited about it and they brought home a few of the toys. They went back a few days later and found more toys and again brought some home.

“The little kids don’t care if they get new toys for Christmas,” Sarah said. “They just want something to play with.”

Sarah started thinking about all the extra toys her own family owned, toys no longer being played with, as well as all the toys families end up accumulating as children grow.

With prices rising on practically everything, Sarah thought a toy swap would be a good way for people on a budget to put a few extra things under the tree while also providing another way for people to give during the holiday season.

The Millers spoke with their church, which agreed to host the collection and the actual swap on Dec. 17.

“Anyone who needs toys can come and pick some up,” Sarah said. “We want everyone to have something to give.”

There is no application process or income guidelines. The couple are not worried about people taking advantage of other people’s generosity of spirit. If someone takes a lot of toys, the Millers assume they need them.

The Miller Family.JPG
The Miller family — Jacob, from left, Myles, Sarah and Gram — hope the toy swap is a big success, with lots of families coming in to find toys for the holidays.

Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

“I have this mentality of expecting goodness out of people,” Sarah said. “I don’t think that is going to be a problem.”

Already, the Millers have collected several bags and boxes of toys and are hopeful more will come before and during the swap. If there are toys left over after the swap, Jacob said the couple will probably donate them to another charity.

“We’ll probably pass them along,” Jacob said.

Whether the toy swap becomes an annual event or not has yet to be decided. There is also the chance that maybe it is done more than once a year. For now, the Millers are just hoping people come to take part.

“I hope we have a bunch of people,” Sarah said.

And don’t worry about whether kids will enjoy playing with the toys. The ones collected so far have been quality-tested by Myles, and he said they would make great gifts for other kids.

Myles Miller playing with toys.JPG
Myles Miller knows the toys collected for a community toy swap being held Dec. 17, 2022, in Willmar are fun and will be great gifts for other kids, having tested them himself.

Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

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