Miracle on 33rd Street: Couple collects more than 4,000 toys to donate

The Bakers collect donations every year for Toys for Tots

LUBBOCK, Texas - David and Lavell Baker are filling up a trailer with thousands toys to donate to the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots Drive. 

"We're hoping by the time Saturday night gets here the trailer will be full," David Baker said. "This is my wife and I's way of giving back." 

However, their story starts long before the first box was loaded.

"We struggled, really struggled, for our kids to have Christmas," Lavell said, remembering hard times trying to afford presents. "I refuse for a child to be without Christmas. Ever." 

They live on 33rd Street, a block away from the Miracles Christmas Parade. 

"We walked across the street, with two chairs in our hands and sat and watched the parade go by," Lavell Baker said. One year, they were inspired to trade in their chairs along the parade route for a spot in the parade, in their little Model T car. 

"We filled it up with toys from our friends, and that's how we got started," Lavell said. And they never stopped. 

It's been nine years, and they are still collecting. Now, they have a partnership with Dollar General stores, where customers can easily purchase a toy and donate on the spot. David thanks a manager, Erica Elmore, for believing in their cause. 

"She got six or seven stores involved for us that we could pick p from, and it's just been growing ever since," David said.

The effort was also powered by Battery Joe's and Northern Tools stores, donating hundreds of batteries to get the toys up and running. 

The Bakers said they collect all year round, so if someone misses the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots deadline, the Bakers will store it until next year. They also volunteer and raise money for Ronald McDonald House and a host of other charities. 

"George Bush made a statement a few years ago, let no child be left behind. We feel the same way about Christmas," David said. 

You can find their bins at area Dollar Generals, or you can donate directly to the Marines at the Miracles Christmas Parade on Saturday. 

David and Lavell said they'll be waving to you from their float again this year! 

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