Kids get gifts at annual Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Children 12 and younger who otherwise might not receive toys for Christmas received gifts at the 16th annual Children's Christmas Party Jacksonville.

As many as 8,000 children and their parents stood in line at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center on Water Street to receive toys and a chance to win a bike. This year, a new record of 815 bikes and other wheeled items were given away.

It's first come, first served to receive gifts once the doors open, then the line of children enter a party and are greeted by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The party was held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Hundreds of volunteers handed out toys and provided entertainment.

"That's what makes all the hard work worth it, not only me, but 800 volunteers," said Diane Halverson, executive director of the event. "And that's why they come every year, watch that joy on the kids' faces, and you can't buy that."

WJXT has been a sponsor of the party for many years and looks forward to handing out toys to underprivileged children.

Each kid was able to choose several toys among electronics, balls, games, musical instruments, preschool learning toys and infant toys. In addition, they get books and rulers.

Each child went home with fun toys, a smiling face and special memories, just what every kid in every family should have during the holiday season.

"It's fun to hear the 'thank you,' not only from the kids but the parents, because you can just see in their eyes that they appreciate it so much because the kids would not have anything if it wasn't for this party," Halverson said.

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