STEP hosts toy drive, cheesecake sampling

Event open to public, free with food or toy donation


Ella Hammerstrand

A Muddy Paws Cheesecake employee shows donation participants the different trays available with free samples. Each person who donated a toy or dog food could sample cheesecakes for free.

Nolan Kelly

St. Louis Park Emergency Program partnered with Muddy Paws Cheesecake to draw a larger crowd for their toy and food drive, according to their website. The main focus of the event is on the charities in need, according to volunteer Christine Anderson.

“The purpose would be to bring awareness for some charities that need help in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, St. Paul area,” Anderson said.

Muddy Paws owner Tami Cabrera is a frequent orchestrator of large events including the St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) toy drive Nov. 28, according to Anderson.

“Tami does a food drive and then a toy drive once a year. She also does bridal seminars,” Anderson said. “So I’ve volunteered with Tami five or six times now over the past three years.”

This recurring event is very popular because of the hospitable and inviting nature, according to Anderson. She said the event included live music, a pillow shop and an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

“I think everyone is so happy to come here, and they think it’s a fun camaraderie activity, and then it kind of surprises you when you come,” Anderson said. “Santa might be new this year for some people, the music is lovely, and we have a hot dog guy.”

Former employee and frequent volunteer Annie Wells said she likes the spirit of the event.

“I love it. It’s a great chance for a lot of different people to get together, to have a focus on giving during this time of year, and drawing attention to small businesses, and to people and animals in need and cheesecake of course,” Wells said.

Cabrera is passionate about giving and helping those in need, according to Wells.

“Those two organizations, which I believe are STEP and People and Pets Together, are getting a lot out of this,” Wells said.

Wells said she adores the animals that will benefit from the drive.

“My favorite part of the event is seeing all of the dogs that come in because I am a big animal fan,” Wells said.

STEP is open weekdays and Muddy Paws Cheesecake is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Sunday.