Kids affected by tragedy, loss get gifts

Police Athletic League holds 7th annual Christmas toy giveaway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 100 local children's Christmas dreams came true Friday on the Westside, where the Police Athletic League held its seventh annual Christmas toy giveaway.

Families who have been affected by tragedy, loss and financial hardships this year became the recipients of $200 worth of merchandise from Walmart.

One family's home was destroyed in a fire the day before Thanksgiving.

Tatiana Addison said she lost her clothes, her shoes, her TV and piano when her home was destroyed in the blaze.

Four families' apartments in all were considered a total loss, but PAL made the families' holiday a little brighter.

"I'm just happy we weren't in the fire, and everything is OK," Addison said.

This was the seventh year PAL and local supporters have provided gifts for underprivileged kids in the community. More than 100 children stocked up on toys and clothes, taking some of the financial burden off the families.

"I'm glad they got what they wanted," grandmother Jamesetta Green said. "After the fire, I thank God they didn't get hurt and my daughter didn't get hurt."

Parents say without the Christmas giveaway, the area under their Christmas trees would be bare.

"If it weren't for Gateway and their generosity, my Christmas would have been good but I wouldn't have been able to provide this for them," mother Anne Simpson said.

"It just lifts your spirits," said Robert Gilshan, a school resource officer. "There's so much tragedy in people's families, you're just making people's days. It's all about the kids."

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