Jackson, MI

Free Toy Store in Jackson, Michigan Delights Thousands of Children on Christmas Morning

Tracy Stengel

The shelves are full of Christmas treasures!Photo via St. Vincent de Paul Jackson Facebook page.

The old Tomlinson School building in Jackson, Michigan looks a lot like the North Pole these days. Volunteers at the Priceless Gift Toy Store are working hard to make Christmas merry and bright for children in the Jackson, Michigan area. Thousands of new, lightly used, and homemade toys have been inspected, cleaned, and lovingly displayed, just waiting to put smiles on young faces. And they are all free. Yes … free!

This year marks the 16th annual labor of love spearheaded by two faith-based organizations — Jackson’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Jackson-based nonprofit Together We Can Make a Difference. They are assisted by hundreds of local businesses, churches, and schools.

Parents can “shop” in the Priceless Gift Toy Store for their children’s presents, take them home to wrap, and delight the kiddos Christmas morning. Local parents needing transportation can find a coupon here which acts as a free JATA bus pass during the 10 days the store is open.

There are plenty of dolls needing a good home!Photo via St. Vincent de Paul Jackson Facebook page.

“Each child gets about a paper bag full of toys. We want to be as generous as we can while serving as many kids as possible,” Wendy Wight, director of Together We Can Make a Difference said. “The outpouring of support is amazing. People hear about the store and want to share what they have. It’s really cool how the community comes together. We receive help from outside of our area as well. I recently drove to St. Joseph, Michigan to meet someone from Chicago who donated a truck load of toys!”

The store is open on 10 select days between November 26, 2021 — December 11, 2021. In order to shop at the Priceless Gift Toy Store, parents need to make an appointment online or call (517) 257–2332. I urge you to do so ASAP, as slots fill up quickly. You must show a picture ID to check in and only one adult is allowed into the store per appointment. Children are not allowed in the store.

Grandparents’ Day is December 14, 2021. All adults are welcome to shop from 1 PM until everything is gone. This is the only day you do not need an appointment. Please remember, children are not allowed in the store.

If you would like to volunteer or donate toys or personal care items, it’s not too late! “We welcome volunteers through December 15th,” Wight said. “Just show up. I’ll be there Monday through Saturday from 9 AM — 6 PM. Donations are welcome until the 10th. People can drive around the back of the building during those hours and we will collect them.”

Thousands of toys for boys and girls!Photo via St. Vincent de Paul Jackson Facebook page.

Volunteers assist in a variety of ways. They are needed to clean toys, dress dolls and style their hair, keep shelves full and straightened, help parents shop, break down and recycle boxes, and help maintain a cheerful, welcoming atmosphere.

“Volunteering is the most amazing mental health fix!” Wight said, chuckling. “To be able to do something for someone you may never meet feels great! It gets addictive to pay it forward and to be able to bless people. We served 4,620 children last year. It’s pretty awesome!”

The Priceless Gift Toy Store is located at 730 Tomlinson Street in Jackson, Michigan. Please spread the word to bring more joy to more children this Christmas season.

If you’ve shopped or helped out at the Priceless Gift Toy Store, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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