By Jeff Say
Culpeper Times Staff Writer
Thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Path Foundation, underprivileged children in Culpeper will have a Merry Christmas.
The grant, secured by Culpeper County special projects coordinator and county wide grants manager Laura Loveday, was awarded to Culpeper Toy Chest to help their ongoing efforts in putting toys under the tree for children in Culpeper this year.
On Saturday, a group of 10 children shopped till they dropped at Lollipop Station.
“This entire campaign is about keeping things local,” Culpeper Toy Chest coordinator Kristen Johnson said. “Lollipop Station was able to work with me on ordering things especially for the teens. This is the only locally owned toy store, to be able to have children come in and do the shopping and participate for this I couldn’t think of a better place to spend this grant money.”
The grant was acquired through the county as part of their Employee Action Committee, which had already received more than 300 toys for the project. Those toys included several bicycles and helmets for older children as well.
“I think that sort of shows support for going after opportunities that contribute to our quality of life in Culpeper County,” Loveday said. “This was just a way of augmenting our support through this grant and making it even more impactful this year.”
The Holiday Magic Grants were given to organizations to help spread holiday cheer. The Friends of the Culpeper library also received $2,000 as a way to purchase books to give away to children at their meet and greets with Santa and Aging Together also received $2,000 to create gift totes for the elderly population.
Loveday’s daughters Hazel and Tarran were part of the group of children helping pick out gifts.
“We’re here to give toys to kids who might not have as much as we do,” Tarran said. “We’re giving them stuff they really want.”
Madelyn and Maura Say along with Lilly Johnson laughed happily as they filled up bags with toys. (Editor’s note: Mady and Maura are Culpeper Times Editor Jeff Say’s daughters.)
“We are giving people toys that don’t have any and we are making them happy,” Mady Say said. “They’re going to have a smile on their face when they get toys.”
Whitney and Bill Edwards and Kristen Taylor, new owners at Lollipop Station, also had smiles on their faces. They were thrilled to be able to give back already after just purchasing the business from original owners Faith and Walter Gil.
“We’re always trying to give back in some fashion and this is a perfect fit,” Bill Edwards said.
Johnson said she was quick to reach out to the new owners to make sure Lollipop Station was able to participate.
“We’re going to spend everything we can locally,” Johnson said. “All of the toys we collect benefit families locally. This is the largest response ever in the 19 years.:
Volunteers also shopped Saturday at Target, helping underprivileged children in the community who signed up for the program through Culpeper Human Services and the Culpeper Christmas Basket program.
“I thought it was an amazing opportunity,” Whitney Edwards said. “We had already talked about helping the community a little bit more. I’ve always had a soft spot for kids in general and especially the ones that need a little extra help. Our kids are growing up in a toy store, that’s a huge blessing for us. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity. If we can give that to them, anyway possible that’s what we’re going to do.”
Lollipop Station has new owners
Whitney Edwards thought she was just making a passing comment when she mentioned to her husband Bill that one of their favorite stores in Culpeper was for sale.
But after careful consideration and a conversation with her sister in law Kristen Taylor over Sunday brunch, the trio decided that owning Lollipop Station was a dream they wanted to make come true.
Each couple a parent of three girls – with another child on the way for Bill and Whitney (he’s keeping fingers crossed for a boy) – they knew the importance of the toy store to downtown Culpeper.
“Everytime we came downtown, our kids wanted to go to Lollipop Station,” Whitney said. “It felt right all the way through. The kids have been great.”
Taylor, who is a full time pharmacist at CVS, said that the response from the public has been positive.
“Everybody has been really excited for us and excited for us to be really successful,” Taylor said.
The store is offering December deals, is utilizing Facebook more and is incorporating more educational toys and more books, Taylor said.
Bill Edwards laughed as his daughters and nieces ran through the store on a recent Saturday, excitedly telling customers about toys.
“It’s definitely been helpful having them in here, it’s fun to watch them pick stuff out,” Bill said.