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Project Caf (c) in Cazenovia seeking donated toys, games

A group of busy students is teaming up to fill a familiar, and necessary, role this holiday season -- as Santa's helpers.

Project Caf (c) members are hosting their second annual Gently Used Toy Shop from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 12 at Burton Street Elementary School. The group is currently accepting donations of gently used toys at Dave's Diner at Common Grounds, The Key, the elementary, middle and high schools and three local churches: St. James Roman Catholic Church, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and the First Presbyterian Church.

Students have been working hard to prepare every donated toy for their future owner.

"The students really take on the responsibility of making sure every item is ready to be played with Christmas morning," said event co-chair Sarah Rose Gabor. "For instance, we count pieces, sanitize plastic, wash stuffed animals, replace old batteries and find missing directions. The student effort is key."

Through the Toy Shop, Project Caf (c) members hope to help the community stretch their holiday dollars while purchasing quality toys.

"We think that the slogan 'Re-Gift, Re-Use, Re-Love' captures everything and more that the event has brought to Cazenovia," Gabor said.

Last year, the group received 1,050 toys and 350 books. Unsold toys went to CazCares. The proceeds from last year's sale were split between local and international charities

Ten-dollar coupons are given to families at CazCares to spend as they wish on the large selection of games, toys and books.

In order to balance the work between the students, the group has formed many committees. Sara Silverman is in charge of publicity, Matt Sattler heads toy collection, Fritz Koennecke is in charge of toy preparation and Maggie Conley is head of Toy Shop decorating, pricing, set up and staffing. Along with Gabor, Kevin Regan is co-chair of the Gently Used Toy Shop.

"Within each committee many Project Cafe students are collectively working to ensure a successful event," Gabor said.

The event depends solely on donations from the community, and Project Caf (c) anticipates an increased need for inexpensive, quality toys this Christmas.

"We know it is a busy time for everyone," Gabor said. "We're just really counting on the community to donate toys we can resell. Without their donation, the event will never reach its full potential. Given the current economy and the success of last year's event, we are expecting a greater demand."

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