$6,000-plus raised by Tacos for Toys

Donations pour in for Christmas fundraising event

Gift baskets and holiday items lined rows of tables. Toys were precariously placed under the Christmas tree which cast a warm glow on the crowded room.

The sound of sleigh bells ringing silenced the eager crowd where Santa Claus would soon make his entrance.

It was a scene fit for the North Pole, happening in Cordova.

The holiday fundraising event Tacos for Toya Dec. 10, at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn., quickly became standing room only.

The all-you-can-eat taco buffet, with silent and live auctions, raised over $6,000 for gifts and food boxes.

“I’m just happy to help families and kids in need on Christmas,” said Brandon Ryan, who helped organize the new event.

Ryan, along with Jessica Thomas, Jose M. Auila and Marley Young, started planning the event at the end of October.

They collected donations from local businesses and others around the community.

The $6,000 raised will be divided into two checks — Cordova Food and Cordova Gifts — to be given to the Salvation Army.

“The amount of donations that poured in were just amazing,” Thomas said. “We’re just thankful for Cordova’s generosity and for their patience with this event.”

Greg and Sylvia Lange from the Reluctant Fisherman donated all food costs, which totaled around $700.

Thomas and Auila will use $1,000 of the donations to shop locally, buying toys to donate to the toy drive.

“All of the toys and money will stay locally,” said Thomas, who emphasizes the importance of supporting the community.

Volunteer auctioneer Robbe Gilmour provided comedic commentary, as items available for auction were paraded down the aisles.

A hand-stitched river-otter-fur teddy bear, paintings and homemade stockings were among many items up for auction.

Kick starting the live auction was 8-year-old Marcus Holley’s Santa Claus drawing, created that night and selling for $30.

“Nothing compares to Cordova; it’s really special,” Auila said, in the emptied room, as the night wound down. “We need to make it bigger and better now,” he added grinning.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.