OCEAN CITY – Xbox. Bicycles. Flat-screen TV. Amazon Fire tablets.
These are just some of the toys 12-year-old Talan Carruthers will donate to families in need this Christmas after redeeming more than 268,000 arcade tickets.
Last Friday, Talan made his way to the Funcade on the Boardwalk to redeem the arcade tickets he had spent a year collecting. But instead of spending the tokens on toys of his own, Talan will be donating the toys to families in his community.
“I wanted to help kids have a better Christmas,” he said, “because there are a lot of kids that don’t get any presents.”
Talan’s father, Brian Carruthers, said his son uses the money he gets from chores, birthdays and holidays to spend on arcade games when the family visits the beach each summer.
“When he gets money for birthday presents or chores, we have it set up where he puts some of it away in savings, he gives some of it away and he gets to spend what is left over,” he said. “So his giveaway money and his spending money come here.”
Talan said this will be his second year redeeming arcade tickets for his charitable mission. Last year, for example, he collected 255,000 tickets from the Funcade and donated several toys and electronics to families in need.
“Last year a family’s house burnt down when they were out, and they literally lost everything they owned,” he said. “We felt bad for them and we gave them a TV and a Xbox to them.”
Brian said the toys and electronics are distributed to several families that are found through his church. This year, he noted, some of the toys will also be donated to an orphanage in Guatemala.
“Talan gets the wow factor at Christmas, and we wanted the wow factor for these kids …,” he said. “We also let the parents decide if they want to act like it’s from them or it’s from a good Samaritan. Maybe the parents can choose to let themselves be the hero for their kids.”
Funcade General Manager Stephanie Meehan said the Carruthers family is one of many customers that donate their toys on an annual basis.
“We have a couple from southern Maryland that come in about three times a year, play and then cash in all of their tickets for toy boxes they send to children oversees,” she said. “I’ve been here 18 years, and they’ve been doing it for 18 years. We also have a lot of teachers that will come in and play and get things for their treasure boxes at school.”
Meehan praised Talan and his family for their generous giving.
“They’ve been regular customers that have been coming in for the last year,” she said. “They are a wonderful family.”
Brian said his family’s yearly visits to the Funcade are a fun way to help those less fortunate.
“This is a way for us to have fun, but also to learn the joy of giving to other people,” he said.