Town Clerk And Husband Host 'Tamales For Toys' Drive



You may recognize the face of Silvia Smith at Payson Town Hall, but you might not be familiar with the story that brought her to the Rim country.

At home in the mountains, Silvia was born in Durango, Colo. and attended high school at Ignacio Colorado High School.

She met a friend of her brother named Don, and the two were married in November of 1977 and moved to Arizona, where they spent the next eight years in Phoenix.

"We were always camping up here (in Payson) and decided we were spending enough money here all the time so we might as well make it a house payment," Silvia said. "It was a much better place to raise our kids."

Silvia initially worked as operations supervisor for Valley National Bank, which she had also worked for in Phoenix. About 12 years ago, the Town of Payson recognized her talent which also includes experience working for the City of Montrose and brought her on staff as their new receptionist.

Soon, she was training as records clerk, then as deputy clerk and later as senior deputy clerk. She took over as the town clerk two years ago when Linda Foster retired, and says she loves her job.

"It's never the same two days in a row and there's always a challenge," she said.

Her position with the town is enough to keep anyone busy, but Silvia and her husband have one other job that doesn't pay with money, but rather with cheerful smiles and warm hearts. The two just finished their 12th year of organizing and holding the "Tamales for Toys" Christmas toy drive. It started out as a rather small endeavor the first year they collected 50 toys for charity and has grown to an all-day event. This year, the Smiths collected 550 donated toys and seven bicycles.

Don and Silvia had previously taken part in numerous motorcycle runs where participants would bring donated toys and drive together to the donation drop-off site.

Don decided to tailor the idea to fit Payson. Silvia chimed in agreeing to make tamales for the event ,which kept her plenty busy this year. The event which was held last weekend served nearly 800 tamales and went through 18 gallons of beans.

The preparation of the tamales begins in August when they roast, peel and freeze the chilis. They pit barbecue the beef in October, then shred and freeze that, as well. Then in November, Silvia takes a two-week vacation from Town Hall and spends her time putting the tamales together.

So what motivates her to take on such a significant job each year?

"It's just good to know there are lots of kids out there who are in need and we helped them," she said. "We've received lots of calls and letters about how this has helped people."

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