By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE — When you mention the Nashville Baptist Association Toy Store, it’s hard not to think about Carolyn Demonbreun.
The NBA Toy Store has existed for 66 years and Carolyn Demonbreun has been there for 58 of those years, serving the community and sharing the love of Christ.
Demonbreun served as director of the Toy Store from 1973-97. She has been a volunteer for the last 20 years, still giving countless time to the ministry which is held at her home church, Shelby Avenue Baptist.
“I love the ministry,” she said proudly.
She admitted, however, that this could be the last year that she is actively involved. Demonbreun turned 91 on Dec. 10 and admits her health is not what it used to be. The last few days (of this year’s Toy Store) have taken a toll on her physically, she said.
Demonbreun recalled that when she first started helping with the Toy Store, they served seven families. This year the Toy Store served about 400 families and provided toys for nearly 1,100 children. In addition, there were 11 professions of faith.
She noted that what has kept her returning to the ministry each year is the opportunity to “help those who can’t help themselves.”
She is the first to acknowledge that what the Toy Store accomplishes is a “God thing.”
What makes it even more special is that she lives in the community and sees firsthand year-round the poverty around her. The people could not provide Christmas gifts for their families without help, she said.
Over the years, she has seen the quality of the toys increase. “We give away the best, not the least,” she affirmed.
Demonbreun noted that it is only right to give the best gifts possible. “Jesus gave His life for us. He gave His all for us and I feel that way about the Toy Store. We ought to give our best.”
Rusty Sumrall, executive director of Nashville Baptist Association, said he has been blessed to work with Demonbreun for 23 years. “Carolyn has been an inspiration to all the volunteers by her energy and enthusiasm,” he observed.
Pat Malone, a member of Haywood Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, and current director of the NBA Toy Store, agreed.
Everyone who has dealt with the Toy Store over the years knows Carolyn, she said.
“She loves the Toy Store and shares about it with everyone,” added Malone who became the director in 1996.
“We are like a big family that gets together for two weeks in December for a family reunion,” Malone said of Demonbreun and all the Toy Store volunteers.