‘Tis the season for toys, treats


Photos by Jared Anderson/Siuslaw News

December traditions return

Dec. 12, 2022 — Florence holiday festivities continued over the weekend with the return of Siuslaw Public Library’s gingerbread house workshop, as well as the U.S. Marines and Western Lane Fire and EMS Authority’s (WLFEA) annual Toys for Tots event.

The festivities began at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the library’s Bromley room, where Youth Services Librarian Gayle Vinchesi, better known as Ms. Gayle, prepared for the crowds.

“We have not done gingerbread houses since pre COVID, so we're so excited to be back here live at the library,” she said.

Two weeks before, Vinchesi began prepping 179 gingerbread houses along with separately packaged decorations, allowing adults and children alike to “make the mess here, leave it here, and take it home and have fun.”

As the door opened, the tables were quickly filled with eager tots and their parents flooded the workspace as they frosted, dotted and candied their homes with holiday cheer.

At the same time, members of WLFEA were preparing for a full day of gift giving with the help of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River.

Hundreds of toys, books, video games, sports equipment and bikes filled the main fire station on Highway 101 as service members, WLFEA employees and volunteers readied the giving area, which saw more than 50 cars waiting in line for the giving to begin.

Toys for Tots, which is run by the Marine Corps Reserve, has partnered with WLFEA for years, with the purpose of giving “a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas,” per its mission statement.

At 11 a.m., with cold rain pouring outside, groups of parents (and sometimes kids) were greeted with warm smiles as they were able to choose presents, and get a high-five from the Toys for Tots bear, dressed in a full Marine Corps dress uniform.

Other events throughout the weekend included the Florence Community PTA’s Winter Wonderland Drive Thru, the final weekend of Florence Food Share’s Empty Bowls, a holiday festival in Mapleton and more.