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20 Years Later
By Vittoria Allen

Twenty years ago, Priscilla was a teenager witnessing the formation of an event that would transform more lives than she could imagine. She never thought that one small Christmas event that her dad and a few of his friends got together to begin, would be entering its 20th year and serving families across the entire county.

Now a mother herself, Priscilla’s experience with Toys for Joy has really come full circle. “It’s really cool because I was raised in ministry doing Toys for Joy, so it’s a blessing to look back and see how this event, which started with the bare minimum, every year grows and grows. It was a project that I never thought would live that long and that I would see it through my adulthood and motherhood, it’s just very beautiful.”

Priscilla’s family has been involved in many different ways, but you won’t usually see them in any promotional materials because she likes being behind the scenes. Without hesitation, she knows that everything her family has done and sacrificed over the last 20 years has been worth it. “It’s an unexplainable feeling you get when you are serving others. Seeing God move and then He impacts your heart so deeply and profoundly. The last time we served, we had another commitment so we needed to leave the event and my daughter didn’t want to leave. As a pre-teen she was so impacted by [the event] that she wanted to stay.”

For Priscilla and her family, there is nothing like the perspective that you gain after the event each year. Thousands of people line up days before the event begins just to get a bag of food, or a toy for their child, and Priscilla’s family is honored to be a part of serving the community. Their hearts overflow with thankfulness to just know God and have food in their fridge.

Filled with emotion, Priscilla recalls that every year, the toy room is the highlight of the event. “I used to host and I’d bring politicians and media, and the toy room is always impactful to see kids and their eyes super wide open. And that happens every year. You feel like you want to give them all the toys and do whatever you can to make them happy. Every time I give them a toy I pray over them. I hope it lasts. I hope God triples [the joy].”

Although the event has changed over the years, the heart has remained the same. In the beginning, Toys for Joy didn’t have media coverage, or politicians, or sponsors, but the event has always been about bringing churches together to serve the community. As the event continues to grow to multiple locations, serving even more people, Priscilla knows that the goal will stay the same.

“At the end of the day, we are touched. God is working on us and blessing us emotionally and spiritually and showing us that this is why. It’s a blessing to see God’s love toward others. That becomes more evident and profound as we talk about the stories when we leave each year. We’re tired, our feet are hurting, we’re hungry and thirsty, but it doesn’t matter. We’d do it again tomorrow.”