Christmas will come early to local families in need on Saturday, Dec. 3, thanks to a community toy drive organized by Gahanna churches.

“Many churches, One community” is the theme for the inaugural community toy drive that will benefit local families, who will be able to shop from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Stonybrook United Methodist Church, 485 Cherry Bottom Road.

Toy and clothing donations are being accepting from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at Stonybrook.

“We offered our building as the clearinghouse, but all the churches are working together,” said Laura McCoy, Stonybrook children’s pastor.

In addition to Stonybrook, five other churches are involved, including First Baptist Church, Mifflin Presbyterian, New Life Church, Peace Lutheran and St. Matthew’s Church.

“We’re collecting gently used and new toys and clothing for families in the community who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise,” said Sharon Blunt, co-coordinator of the event. “We’re so excited. It will be such a great event. This is the third year Stonybrook has done the toy drive, and it’s the first time all the churches have gone together on it. We all know families need help, and we’re all answering to the same Lord. It will be fantastic.”

Signs will be posted at the church to direct those who want to donate items next week.

After last year’s toy drive that assisted about 80 families, McCoy said, church members thought about how the toy drive could be made better and serve more people.

“We do summer lunch club together with these churches,” she said. “We’re so excited they’re joining us. It has been a flurry of activity. We thought if we opened it up, we could serve more families. It’s open to anyone in need. We’re excited to serve more families.”

McCoy said the churches also are collecting batteries, wrapping paper, tape and diapers.

During the community toy drive, parents will be able to leave their children with a staffed nursery while they shop.

An area also will be set up for children to shop for their mom, dad and grandparents. Free giftwrap will be provided.