The first year I did this, I ended up with 83 toys.
Last year was the second year I did it and I was beyond stoked when I ended up getting 105 toys.
This year actually turned out even better than last year did with a grand total of 132 toys.
If you're wondering what 132 toys laid out on our bed looks like, allow me to show you.....
It took a lot of creative piling and tightly bunching all the toys together to get them to all fit. It was only a minor frustration when I started laying them out and was almost out of space on the bed yet still had 6 more bags of toys to lay out. I stopped and had to push everything I already had out back. There are some toys you can't even see because I stacked other stuff on top of it. Then after all the stacking and what not, I ended up with barely any space left on the bed. The toys to the left that are almost cut off from view are at the very edge of the bed. I always forget how much work getting the picture proof is until I have to lay out and then bag up and box all the toys again, lol.
I didn't spend more than $10 on a single toy. Most were in the $5 to $7 range. Some even in the $3 - $4 range. I did a lot of price scoping when planning my shopping trips out to find good deals on toys. And as usual we got everything from dolls, action figures, cars, dress up stuff, pre-school toys, learning toys, arts/crafts stuff, legos, a few books, activity books, puzzles, random games, things that light up and a couple things that make obnoxious noises without the requirements of batteries. I try to get a varied selection of gender specific and non-gender specific toys in all age ranges. It's a lot of fun doing the shopping but also a lot of thought and planning goes into it as well.
That box is from a fantastic friend of mine. It's actually rather deep and has around $150 worth of stuff in it. I was quite happy when I got the box of toys to add to the stuff I had already purchased and super happy with the diverse selection of toys inside.
I break this down into multiple shopping trips. So it's not too overwhelming on myself, my helper (I bring along someone to help me shop. Last year it was The Lawyer. This year my awesome boyfriend Shane did it) or whatever worker that ends up having to ring up all the toys at the register. I always go late at night or super early in the morning so there's not too many other shoppers to contend with.
I also always buy the toys I'm donating with my own money first (pictured above) to kind of kick the fundraiser off in a way. Plus I think it helps for people to see I'm actually donating stuff myself and not just waiting for people to give me their money to go buy stuff. ;)
A cool thing for my first shopping trip was the woman working the register that late night (it was after 1 AM) asked what we were doing with all the toys. We explained they were for Toys for Tots and she said we were sweethearts. She had a problem with the register she was on so we had to take all the toys off that one and move them over to the lane on the other side. By then, we had 3 ladies come up who were all going on break and all buying sodas and Lunchables. We let them go ahead of us and the woman ringing the toys up ended up using her employee card to give us an employee discount on the toys because we were so nice and she thought it was such a wonderful thing we were doing. That gave me an extra $40 to spend on my next toy shopping trip and I was incredibly excited by that and so happy at her kindness.
Anyway, here is the slide show for the first big shopping trip:
And here is the slide show for the second shopping trip:
It takes some creative stacking to get the toys all neat stacked in the cart, too. Mainly I have some mild OCD so I need my shopping cart to be as neat and organized looking as I can keep it while I do this so I can easily keep count of what I have. Also so I can keep up with what kinds of toys I've got and what I still need to get. I like to be organized, okay. :)
We had so many toys, we couldn't fit them all in the trunk of the car even though the trunk is actually pretty deep and can hold a lot. So what couldn't fit into the trunk went into the backseat then we headed off to the Toys for Tots warehouse to drop the stack of toys off.
Here's another slideshow. The toys loaded up in the car and being dropped off at Toys for Tots:
I want to say thank you to those of you who donated. Whether it was $2, $10, $25, $50 or more; it doesn't matter. I appreciate it and I know the families that benefit from Toys for Tots doing what they do appreciate it, too. I have so much fun being able to do this. I look forward to doing this again next year, too. :) I also want to say thank you to everyone who posted on their blogs, tweeted links and otherwise
If you want to go look through the photostream of all the pictures I took, just click here. I used all of the photos in this post whether they were posted separately or included in one of the slideshows but if you'd rather look at all the pictures on Flickr, have at it. :)
Thanks again to everyone who donated and helped out this year. That's a wrap until it's time for round 4 next year. ;)