Revving Up For Tamales For Toys

Volunteers serve up tamales that raised $5,600 in toys and donations for kids.

Volunteers serve up tamales that raised $5,600 in toys and donations for kids. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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One of the holiday season’s tastiest events is just around the corner — Tamales for Toys.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Gerardo’s Fire­wood Café will host a tamale lunch and serve as the pickup spot for those who have purchased a dozen of the best tamales around.

“We assisted more than 200 children last year with the efforts of this event,” said Suzy Tubbs, president of Payson Community Kids and chief organizer of the event. “We are expecting that there will be a larger number this year.”

For the past 25 years, Rim Country residents have acquired tamales by the dozen or brought a toy for a lunch of two heavenly tamales, beans and chips to help kids in need celebrate Christmas.

The event has grown from its original humble beginnings in town clerk Silvia Smith’s house to Gerardo’s opening its doors to anyone who brings an unwrapped $7 toy, said former Payson fire chief Marty deMasi.

Tubbs said that it has been easy to find toys for the little children, but boys and girls 12 and up always get left out.

“So CDs, basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, games, makeup and bath products, movies, etc. are a good choice,” she said.

Organizers will also happily accept cash for a tamale lunch. The donations help put on a Christmas gift-giving event for Payson Community Kids, which helps struggling families with food, clothing and financial needs.

The organization also offers a safe place for children to come after school to socialize and experience enrichment activities.

Payson Community Kids partners with the Payson Fire Department to bring Christmas to children whose families often must choose between providing food or utilities for the family — with no money for toys at Christmas.

Tubbs said there are lots of chances for the community to help prepare for the event. “We raised the amount of tamales to be made as we ran out last year,” she said. “We are making 300 dozen (this year).”

Tubbs said people who want to help assemble tamales should stop by the Payson Senior Center on Main Street from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19 and Wednesday Nov. 20.

Organizers also need volunteers to help clean up at the Senior Center and at Gerardo’s.

If purchased early, a dozen tamales cost $18. The price rises to $20 at the event. Purchase a dozen tamales early at the Payson Fire Department’s Main Street Station.

For questions, please contact Tubbs at 928-478-7160 or paysoncommunitykids@gmail.com.

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