Rejuvenated toys make gifts of joy

By Casey Peacock: PNT staff writer

Spending time to refurbish used toys throughout the year, Brenda Fenton says she hopes she’s helping to spread joy to area children and families who are in need, this holiday season.

A secretary for the Portales Fire Department, Fenton stated that she has received calls for several years, asking if the fire department took in toys for needy children. At first, there was not a program to address the need, then about three years ago, Fenton began to take the toys in.

“The response of used toys was overwhelming,” said Fenton.

After refurbishing the toys, Fenton says she donates them to La Casa Family Health Center to use in its holiday program to help needy families.

“She’s one of our angels, she is a wonderful person,” said Pilar Moreno, La Casa outreach coordinator. “There are not enough words to express my gratitude to her.”

Combining forces, Moreno says La Casa and Fenton will be bringing a little joy to some who might otherwise not have any joy at all this holiday season.

For the fifth year, La Casa will be distributing food, clothing and the refurbished toys to families who are in need, said Moreno. Collecting donations from staff and the community, the program will provide the families with a basket of food, clothing and toys, she said.

According to Moreno, the program gave out 72 baskets to families last year. Though funds and donations are low, the program has plans to meet or exceed that number this year. Through the help of the local Girl Scouts and other volunteers, Moreno hopes to gather enough of the needed items, she said.

“We’re hoping that we can serve them all,” said Moreno.

A big demand for families this year has been coats, said Moreno. New coats from a business in town have been donated to the program but more are needed. Families are also asking for all types of warm, winter-type clothing, said Moreno.

Referred by various agencies in the community, the chosen families are sent a letter inviting them to La Casa on a designated day to receive the baskets and needed items. The families are allowed to chose toys from the refurbished section and then each child is given a brand new toy.

The families are also given clothing at this time, said Moreno.

“We put it out and who ever needs it, gets it,” said Moreno.

Donations for the program are still being taken. Items can be dropped off at La Casa, said Moreno.

“We have been blessed (in the past), we are hoping this year will be the same,” said Moreno.

As for Fenton, she quietly continues to take in and care for the toys, getting them ready for the upcoming holiday season.

“I really feel gratified,” said Fenton. “It just makes you feel good inside.”