Each shopper, Okonski said, received 25 points for every child currently in their care.

The points, in turn, were redeemed for brand new toys.

Dolls cost between 12 and 25 points, toy cars ranged between 15 and 20, books were as cheap as one point and a skateboard was 25.

To avoid running out of items, the volunteers divided the stash in two, half for the morning and half for the afternoon.


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When asked what the hot items were, Ron Woynovitz, a 15-year volunteer, said, "Remote control cars. Every year, without a doubt."

Okonski noted that she only gets the ones that run on rechargeable batteries to reduce the cost for her shoppers.

Used items were available only to supplement new toys, Okonski noted.

"We had a lot of people where we were it," Okonski said. "They took a lot longer to shop because what they were getting from us was what (the only things) they were going to get."

Sandy, a shopper who preferred to be identified only by her first name, was waiting in line to redeem her points for the grocery-cart-full of items for her four children.

The Lansdowne resident said she has shopped at the giveaway before and that her haul, which featured several dolls, would be a hit with her children.

In addition to the wreaths, wrapping paper, ornaments, lights and plastic trees offered, Del. James Malone, who represents District 12A, which includes Arbutus, provided a donation of 40 live Christmas trees, Okonski said.

Okonski called the event a place for one-stop shopping, considering it even offered bags of food and turkeys so people could have a traditional holiday dinner.

The event not only brightened the holiday season of the shoppers, but also the volunteers who made the event possible.

Some, like Woynovitz, worked from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 8 to set up the event and spent the entire next day making sure the shoppers' needs were met.

"I'm actually pretty tired right now," the Arbutus resident said just before 1 p.m.

When asked if the event was worth the effort, he responded, "I consider myself fortunate. The people who are here are not as fortunate. Oh yeah. It's definitely worth it."