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Lighthouse Toy Store spreads Christmas cheer

Volunteer Vickie Little checks inventory Thursday morning at the Lighthouse Foundation Toy Store prior to the arrival of family members picking out toys.

Photo by Mark Boehler

By Zack Steen

Daily Corinthian

Corinth businessman Phil Little said it's the most important thing he'll do all year.

The 20-year Lighthouse Foundation board member will hover.

"I'll go wherever I'm needed "" fill in the gaps," he said.

On Thursday morning, Little was getting ready to help a needy Crossroads area parent find the perfect Christmas gift for their child during the 25th anniversary of the Lighthouse Foundation Toy Store.

The annual charity will welcome 325 families throughout the day. Each family will get opportunity to select new toys, clothing and supplies that will surely make Christmas morning a brighter one.

"This is a wonderful way to spread a little Christmas cheer and show people the love and kindness of Jesus Christ," said Little. "It is by far the the most improvement thing the Lighthouse Foundation does, and that is to bring hope to the people in the community that are hurting."

Little credits Foundation Executive Director Gary Caveness, his staff and the more than 100 volunteers for helping make such a large-scale event happen.

Shoppers preregister for weeks leading up to the Toy Store's opening day. Each shopper is assigned a time period during the day they can come shop. Staff allows only 12 shoppers inside the gym every 15 minutes. Prior to each shopper entering the gym, they'll hear a Christian message from Caveness.

"It's not just about gifts," said second year volunteer Wendy Phillips. "It's a time to love on them "" give them a hug, wish them Merry Christmas and share the word of Christ."

Each shopper can select four toys per child from the store. Shopper assistants push shopping carts and help shoppers select the best toy for their child. Additionally each shopper receives a free bible and a story book bible for each child.

After two years volunteering in the loading area, 19-year-old Olivia Wilson was promoted to shopper assistant for her third time out.

She said "it's a humbling feeling" to see the stacks of new toys awaiting needy families.

"My parents have never had to do this. They could always provide for us, and it makes me think "" it's crazy that this many people in my hometown need help buying presents for their kids," said Wilson. " ... I'm so blessed to be able to help."

Caveness said more than 1,000 children will receive toys from the Toy Store this year, and with their fundraising goal only half reached, more dollar donations are needed.

Each year the community has come through to help them meet the need, he said.

"The community has never let us down," said Caveness.

Donations can be made in person at 1103 South Johns Street in Corinth, by mail to Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 2121, Corinth, MS 38835 or online at lighthousecorinth.org.