Thomas’ Toyshop turns Abettor Brewing into ground zero for holiday generosity

Published 9:00 am Friday, December 23, 2022

Abettor Brewery is best known across Winchester for beer, trivia, and live music, but it turned into Thomas’ Toyshop last Sunday.

The two-hour event at the brewery’s Depot Street location invited local children to come to receive gifts and clothes. While there, they also snacked on Christmas cookies and visited with Hank the Famous Horse.

Winchester residents Lisa McCoy and Virginia Lois Thomas organized the proceeding toy drive; for them, it is an all-year affair.

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“All throughout the year, we shop, go to different yard sales, find things on the side of the street – we refurbish them – and we also get donations,” said McCoy.

The toy drive and event were born out of necessity.

“Because of COVID, we did not want parents to have to worry about getting gifts for their kids,” McCoy said.

The first two iterations saw local residents drop off donations on the front steps of the Clark County Courthouse.

McCoy admitted that the first two “were kind of hectic” and was thankful to move the event indoors this year.

Thomas is the toy drive’s namesake, the grandmother of Abettor owner Tyler Montgomery, and was the event’s honorary, Mrs. Claus.

The community’s generosity floored her.

“It is unbelievable to see how they turned out, and I was so happy with it all,” Thomas said from her rocking chair atop Abettor’s stage.

“We started advertising it a little bit, and people started calling and sending in money. I mean, people are so generous, and they wanted to help, and they wanted the kids to have toys,” Thomas said.

Christmas was a different experience for Thomas while growing up on a farm off Irvine Road.

“Some of the things I remember getting are notebooks, paper, and stuff like that…Mama and daddy were farmers, so we didn’t get a lot at Christmas. Maybe something, but I can’t recall what,” Thomas said.

So it was especially sweet for her seeing community children receive their gifts.

“They’ve had a good time tonight,” Thomas said.

Of course, they had some help along the way.

Heather James is one of the owners of South Main Grocery and Grill and decided to pitch in when McCoy asked for her assistance.

“I was asked by Lisa if I would like to be a drop-off for the toy donations, and I told her that I would,” she said.

The opportunity to be of help fit the theme of the season.

“This is a good thing to do for the public and the community,” James said.

Kendall Taylor is the Retail Manager of the Winchester Road Cracker Barrel in Lexington and got involved when an employee of the restaurant, Leslie Anderson, volunteered to help with the toy drive.

“We offered them a discount on all of the toys because we have an employee discount, so we shared that with Ms. Lisa. She came to many events to get as many as she could! They filler a car up many times,” said Taylor.

Like it did for James, helping with the toy drive for Taylor helped her and the rest of Cracker Barrel’s staff into the Christmas spirit.

“There is a sense of giving. This is the season to give and do unto others as others do unto us. We try to share that hospitality and Christmas cheer we have in our store with everybody that enters,” she said.

McCoy agreed with that sentiment as well.

“Events like this bring out the spirit in people, which is goodness and kindness,” she said.

And, of course, because of said spirit, McCoy wanted to express gratitude to all those who donated.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said.