Volunteer Spotlight: Awesome Emma!
By Mary Silver
There is a huge variety of toys donated to the Free General Store and because of that abundance, it takes many Toy Department volunteers with “play expertise” to help us evaluate the toys and prepare them for distribution. Yes, play is essential! How awesome is that?
The review of our toy donations often begins with the our team’s collective experience about a particular toy. But depending on one’s age or childhood experiences, knowledge of particular toys might not be so current. One of our chief guides to the toys kids love today is Emma Stoelk, an 18 year old senior high school student.
But Emma is not your ordinary 18 year old. For over a year Emma has been a regular and dedicated Wednesday volunteer in the FGS Toy Department. Emma knows toy trends, new doll names, the popular board games and stuffed toys that kids love. Her dedication to the needs of children also shows in her plans after graduation. Emma plans to study Early Childhood Education.
As if volunteering wasn't enough, Emma recently, of her own initiative, began donating toys to our Free General Store. While out shopping, she found sales on fun toys. Emma quickly started buying toys and giving them to the Toy Department.
As often happens, giving begets more giving and soon Emma started shopping for, and buying, new and like-new toys at garage sales in her neighborhood. How many teenagers do you know who would do that? Emma became a buyer of many great toys for the Toy Department all on her own, with her own money and she refused to be reimbursed.That's truly amazing.
Recently, Michelle Strong, another FGS volunteer, sent me a message about an upcoming large garage sale of just children toys. The weekend of the sale was one when most of the other Toy Department volunteers were busy, except for Emma. We all officially proclaimed Emma the “WPE’s buyer” for this sale and gave her a budget to spend on our behalf.
Once again Emma took the initiative to expand her role from buying and bargain shopping to being a White Pony Express ambassador. She told the folks who were holding the sale all about White Pony Express and the Free General Store. And as a result of Emma’s outreach, they not only offered to severely discount several toys at the sale, they informed her that the money collected from ALL their sales were going to be donated to WPE! How awesome is that? And how awesome is Emma for going over and above to help children receive toys from White Pony Express? We think she's one-of-kind and are so happy to have her on our team!
If you’d like to donate new or like new toys to White Pony Express or hold a drive to raise money or donated goods for us, please reach out to us.