JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars, holiday elves and a surfin' Santa can all be found together in one place on Wednesday -- at the "Christmas in July" toy drive put on by Wolfson Children's Hospital.
Toys are needed all year long, but the hospital's toy supply typically dwindles during the summer months, away from the traditional spotlight of holiday giving and year-end charitable donations.
Children of former Jaguars stars quarterback Mark Brunell and offensive tackle Tony Boselli were lending a hand to greet children and replenish the toy supply for hospitalized children. They were be joined by a volunteer army of holiday elves, a summertime Surfin' Santa, hospital mascot Wolfie, the wolf cub and more, and the event of course had Christmas decorations.
Cars were pulling up and dropping off toys as the community responds to the call from Wolfson Children's Hospital to donate new, unwrapped toys during its first-ever "Christmas in July" toy drive. Candy canes were served and a downloadable (PDF) gift list is also available at http://www.wolfsonchildrens.org/toydrive.
Aaron Albritton was one of the people who came out to donate toys. His 9-year-old nephew is also a patient at Wolfson.
"These children are in the toughest times of their lives," Albritton said. "Their families are, and you know when they are in the hospital they need some joy, something to take their mind off the situation."
"Christmas in July" was Wednesday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event took place in the circular drive at the front entrance of Wolson Children's Hopsital, located at 800 Prudential Drive in downtown Jacksonville.
Wolfson Children's Hospital treats more than 60,000 children each year in the north Florida and south Georgia region, using toys and art supplies to help soothe, distract and ease the anxieties of children of all ages during treatment for illness and injuries.
New toys collected through the "Christmas in July" toy drive will restock the hospital's playrooms and teen room, and help hospitalized children celebrate birthdays and other special occasions throughout the year.
Leading up to the toy collection event, all RPM Automotive locations throughout Jacksonville served as toy collection sites, joined by some Winn-Dixie stores. In addition, a Virtual Toy Drive was being conducted at www.wolfsonchildrens.org/toydrive to allow the community to make monetary donations toward the purchase of toys and art supplies for patients by Child Life specialists with Wolfson Children's Hospital.