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RICHMOND, Va. -- A local toy store is working to help families impacted by the government shutdown.

“World of Mirth” in Carytown is giving free toys to children of furloughed parents with birthdays in January or February.

In a spur of the moment decision, store owner, Thea Brown, said she made a post on Facebook and Instagram announcing that the store wanted to help.

“Waking up and hearing day 32 of the shutdown, it was just something O never thought I would hear,” said Brown. “It just got to the point where I was like, ‘Okay. Something’s got to give.’”

Thea Brown

Brown said she was doing orders in her back-office Tuesday evening when she decided to make the post on Facebook and Instagram. She said she was hoping to reach a few local families, but never imagined the reach it would have.

Beth Eaton, a salesperson at World of Mirth, said she was sitting at home when she saw the post.

“I opened my phone, and went ‘oh that was nice of Thea, good for you,’ said Eaton. “And then went, ‘woah! Hold on!’”

Less than 24 hours after Brown made the post, it had already been shared on Facebook more than 1,500 times. She said she’s had families reach out, not only from other states, but other countries too.

“I have a notebook that I’m writing everyone’s information on, and I think I’m on like page 15,” Brown said. “Our first package went out to Kentucky. I’ve had people reach out who are stationed in Greece.”

Brown said each message reminds her of how many people are impacted.

“You keep hearing government worker, government worker, but you don’t hear families,” Brown said.

She and other employees at World of Mirth said they want those furloughed workers and families to know they’re not alone.

“Even one or two gifts that magically appear can be a delight for a child,” Brown said.

“The real power lies in kindness and community and I just love Thea for reminding us all of that,” said Eaton.

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