Published 12:00 am Monday, December 5, 2011
By Sarah Campbell
John and Sheila Collins were sitting in the back of their auto repair shop Monday trying to figure out how they were going to fill the empty Toys for Tots box that sat at the front of their store when their version of a “secret Santa” appeared.
A man, who asked to remain anonymous, stopped in Bumper 2 Bumper Auto Repair & Transmissions to drop off about $1,000 worth of toys.
The couple, who own the shop, said they were worried because the box had sat empty for nearly a month. In fact, Monday morning Sheila picked up two toys in hopes others would follow her lead and donate.
“I told the guys we had to find a way to get that box full,” she said.
Then they heard a bell ring.
And there at the front of the shop was a man with a truck full of toys.
“The box was overrunning, so we had to grab a box from the back,” Sheila said. “When that box filled up we started lining them up in the window and putting them under the tree.”
Sheila said the timing of the drop-off could only mean one thing.
“It just felt like a Christmas miracle,” she said.
John said he cried when the man showed up.
“It just touched my heart,” he said. “It’s nice to know that somebody still has a kind heart.”
The man told the couple he was trying to teach his grandchildren about the gift of giving.
“He took his three grandchildren to the store and told them that Santa was struggling this year and he could only afford to get the kids one gift so the little elves had to help the children,” Sheila said. “They went through the aisles and started throwing toys in the basket.”
This is the third year the shop has participated in Toys for Tots. But it’s the first time they have received such a large donation.
“This is just one person,” Sheila said. “Can you imagine how many children we could make happy if each of us took 10 minutes out of our day to drop off a toy.”
There is still plenty of room for toys at Bumper 2 Bumper. But Arbe Arbelaez, Toys for Tots coordinator for Rowan County, said people need to get donations in soon so they can be sorted and distributed in time for Christmas.
“I’ve seen my share of Christmas miracles through the years,” Arbelaez said. “That’s why I keep doing it.”
Toys for Tots is sponsored nationally by the Marine Corps Reserve. Visit salisbury-nc.toysfortots.org for a list of drop-off locations.