Toys are first to go at Share What You Wear

At Iowa Central Community College’s big Christmas giveaway, it’s the toys that go first.

Kids of all ages raced to the back corner of the gymnasium of the Career Education Building, the moment the doors opened at 9 a.m. Saturday, to pick out something special for themselves or a friend.

“I think this is one of my favorite stations,” said volunteer Rachel Black, as she watched the kids collect the second-hand toys. “The toys get to have a new life. All these stuffed animals get to be used again.”

This was the 10th annual Share What you Wear event, where families in need of a little help this Christmas can pick out free used items, from toys to clothes to shoes. There was even a donated piano for the taking.

The cold weather didn’t keep people away, but it did keep them waiting inside their cars longer than usual.

“The line’s not as long yet as it usually is,” said Rick Sandquist, one of the event’s organizers. “People will come in later.”

Sandquist had estimated around 1,200 people would come to the event.

It took around 75 to 100 volunteers to keep things running smoothly. Before 9 o’clock, Sandquist reminded them of what they needed to do.

“You’re here to help people,” he said. “For some of these people this is the only Christmas shopping they have.”

“Help people be safe. People get in a hurry,” said Kris Nerem-Lowery. “If you see things on the floor, we want to keep that cleaned up.”

Volunteer Bubba Surratt had another important job.

“I’m helping kids if they lost their parents,” Surratt said. “I found one kid’s parents in the toy section.”

Surratt, age 10, was wrapping gifts for people at the wrapping station when he wasn’t doing that. He was a little younger than most of the other volunteers.

“I want to do it for kindness,” he said. His mother and grandmother were also helping out.

In addition to the myriad used items, kids and adults could get one free item, which was brought out to them from the back.

“We have everything from baby dolls to crock pots,” said Nerem-Lowery. “They tell us what age, and we run the gift out to them.”

Iowa Select Farms also donated 16 or 17 cases of pork loins to be given out, she said.

Volunteer Jenny Shivers said this was probably the best year they’ve had for fundraising.

“We raised over $7,000 this year, and we use it to buy these new gifts,” she said.

“Once you get involved, you don’t want to stop,” Shivers added, saying she’s been helping out for the last seven years. “The giving back, and seeing the faces of people who come through the door.”

Volunteer Abe Acosta was back for his second year at the event.

“It’s helping people out and giving to the needy,” he said. “You’re going to feel good that you helped out. It’s more than just a good feeling, it’s like your duty to help someone. Like Immanuel Kant would say, the only good thing in the world is good will.”