Make Every Child Smile Toy Drive: Santa Claus came to town

Make Every Child Smile Toy Drive: Santa Claus came to town
Published: Dec. 18, 2022 at 6:17 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 18, 2022 at 11:37 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. -- T’was the weekend before Christmas and all throughout Shake-It juice shop sat hundreds of toys for the ‘Make Every Child Smile’ Toy Drive.

“This is the time of year where so many people are in need, and it comes through in different ways,” Shylo Eckstrom, a who has been volunteering with ‘Make Every Child Smile’ for seven years, said. “Last night we spent about five hours wrapping and we had an incredible turnout. This is not even showing half of what we did.”

It was their 7th annual toy drive and organizers said it was their busiest year yet.

“We have already gotten, within 30 minutes, we have had 42 cars,” Eckstrom said. “We have cars all the way down two blocks.”

More than 500 gifts were delivered to those who swung by.

Thanks to community donations, and 30 of Santa’s helpers at the drive, everyone* in the Twin Ports who may be experiencing hardships can put a gift under their tree.

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes kids getting their first Christmas gifts from family friends,” Melissa Paisley, a foster parent, said. “It brightens their days and lightens their lives up. It shows them that people do care.”

For some, this toy drive meant more than placing a gift under the tree.

“You see a lot of kids going without presents because they go into foster care, and that’s not how it should be, and every kid should get something to open on the holidays that they celebrate,” Paisley said.

“It’s an indescribable feeling, to be honest,” said Paisley. “I’ve never lived in a community where I’ve seen this much progress, especially with times being so hard. It’s just amazing.”

An event that touched all who were involved.

“It’s really humbling and amazing to be able to give back to people when they’re in need,” said Eckstrom.

Make Every Child Smile is an annual event.

There are no income restrictions or sign-up requirements if you are interested in attending next year.