State of Missouri employee Mike Rainey dedicates time and attention as part of the annual Crosslines Toystore at the Missouri National Guard armory in Springfield, Missouri. The Toystore allows Greene County's most vulnerable residents the opportunity to 'shop' for donated toys for children who otherwise might go without. (Ann Keyes/Missouri National Guard)
By Ann Keyes
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - While many are hustling and bustling through shopping malls and office parties, state of Missouri employee Mike Rainey spends his holiday time helping those less fortunate as part of the Crosslines Toystore extravaganza at the Missouri National Guard armory in Springfield.
Crosslines of Springfield, a project under the umbrella of Council of Churches of the Ozarks, has used the drill floor at the Guard armory for six years for the annual Toystore that allows financially vulnerable parents the opportunity to 'shop' for gifts for their children.
"We take the auditorium over and turn it into a Christmas Toyland," said Christine Moses, director of marketing and development for Council of Churches. "We are so grateful to the Missouri National Guard for letting us use the facility."
For his part, eight-year Missouri state employee Rainey coordinates with Crosslines in the days leading up to the giveaway, as dozens of volunteers filter in and out, their arms loaded with donated baby dolls, board games, soccer balls and more. Rainey stays onsite overnight, sleeping in his office on a cot.
"Without this going on, the kids wouldn't have a decent Christmas," said Rainey. "I feel like I was fortunate when I was growing up. My grandfather would go crazy and buy lots of gifts for my brother and me. My grandmother would let us open every one of them, but we could only keep two or three. The rest we would donate to people that weren't going to have a Christmas. I think it's been embedded in me since then."
On game day, Rainey makes sure the operation moves smoothly. Qualified Greene County applicants begin lining up for the event the evening before the opening. Rainey opens the doors and ushers 75 or so people through at one time to browse the isles where thousands of toys await. Roughly three thousand kids benefited from the store in 2011 with more expected in 2012.
For Rainey, who works as a custodian and groundskeeper for the Missouri National Guard, it's an annual tradition he's happy to be a part of.
"I don't mind one bit," he said, "especially when you see the people. They are so thankful and grateful."
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