Olive Tree toy drive shares Christmas spirit

The Olive Tree co-owner Ashley Funk and daughter Jersey show off some of the Melissa & Doug toys. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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A local toy store is getting into the Christmas spirit and raising funds to donate to families who don’t have as much around the holiday time.

Ashley Funk, who runs The Olive Tree with her husband Kevin, said they have been considering holding a toy drive for a few years now, especially since The Olive Tree transitioned to focus more on kids’ toys. “We really want to give back to the community through our store,” she said. “We thought why not do a toy drive with a specific brand like Melissa & Doug where we do carry a lot of Melissa & Doug stuff.”

A percentage of sales of the Melissa & Doug toy brand from October until the week before Christmas will go toward purchasing things like toys and food that will be given to families that could use it.

Funk said the store will also be matching any money raised from the toy sales.

“Me and my husband have a very big passion for kids, especially as we have our three little ones,” Funk said. “We’re passionate about helping kids, helping our community. There’s a sentence that always resonates with us ever since we had our first [child], ‘It takes a village.’ It literally does. We are part of that village, so this is our way of helping out, whether we know the families or not.”

Funk said the store will also be accepting donations outside of toy sales if people want to donate.
“We’re just going to put it into different packages,” she said. “We have a Santa and we might just get Santa to come out and go around and anonymously give out toys and goodies.”

Now that Halloween is over, Funk is hoping to jump-start a community-wide push to gather donations.

“We do want this to become a huge thing where we can work with different charities in the area to do something like this,” she said. “We feel it’s very important and there are a lot of people, whether they talk about it openly or not, that don’t have a lot of money at Christmas and they can’t give their family bigger gifts or the amount of gifts, and it’s hard for little kids especially when they’re seeing their friends who get a lot of stuff and they don’t.”

“It’s important to feel like everyone has a very good Christmas and feels that sense of community at that time,” she added.

Funk said she knows what it’s like to be a parent and not always able to provide for their family. “It’s devastating,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate that people are in circumstances and they can’t always provide. It’s hard on the kids and it’s hard on the parents. To have that blessing at Christmas, if they having a hard year they can end it on a good note and start the year fresh.”

“People will feel more cared about,” she added. “They’re not going to think that they’re just forgotten and they’re nobodies. Simple little acts of kindness can always snowball into bigger things.”

Funk said Christmas is her number one holiday. “It’s very important to our family,” she said. “It’s our favourite time of year. We go all out… we’re exhausted come January, but it’s the one time of year we look forward to all year round.”

The Olive Tree will be having a Santa Claus come out to take pictures with customers on November 17, and the follow-up to their successful Fawn & Cub market will be on December 2 from 3 to 8 p.m. Since it’s going to be indoors this time, Funk said she had to turn away over 60 artisans, but the spring market will be able to hold more people.

Updates can be found on The Olive Tree’s Facebook page.