JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many Duval County residents with big hearts made a small gesture to impact the lives of local children by donating Christmas gifts to the 12th annual Channel 4 Toy Drive on Thursday.
The toy drive is a partnership with the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville. The event returned after being canceled for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why organizers called this year extra special.
“Inflation has gotten bad. Children are needy. We have to help our children,” donator Joyce Miller said.
Leslie Lockwood is a local teacher who also was inspired to donate gifts for the children.
“I was a teacher and we’re so thankful for everything we have. We like to give back to kids who are less fortunate,” Lockwood said.
By Thursday night, News4JAX received approximately 2,003 toys, including 50 bicycles and 23 helmets.
The organization expects at least 4,000 children and their families to show up for this year’s Christmas Party.
“We’re just so excited about having the kids back. I can’t express how much we missed having the kids and the families there in person. Volunteers are really excited,” said Diane Halverson, executive director of the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville.
The Church of Oakland donated a busload of toys.
“The Oaks looks forward to giving back to the community because we’re a loving, living and serving church. Not just to Jesus Christ, but to everybody in the community. It’s the full extension of Christ,” Minister Rae Owens said. “God had blessed me, so I’m able to bless someone else.
The other people who drove through the event to drop off their donations said they were grateful that they had the ability to give back to others.
The Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville returns Dec. 17 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
If you missed Thursday’s toy drive but still want to donate a toy, you can drop one off in the lobby of the WJXT-Channel 4 studios until Monday, Dec. 12 at 4 Broadcast Place, Jacksonville, FL 32207.