JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Stealing a page from basketball icon Michael Jordan, the Executive Director of the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville gave a simple statement when discussing the organization’s return following a two-year hiatus from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re back!” Diane Halverson exclaimed to News4JAX.
The party that supplies toys to the community’s most in-need children had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to health protocols. The celebration is a chance for children 12 and under to feel the joy of Christmas by getting toys that have been donated by local businesses and members of the public.
On Thursday, News4JAX hosted its annual toy drive to help fill the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center downtown with toys and bikes for those kids. WJXT-Channel 4 has been hosting the drive since 2010. It was even held over the past two years and benefited Toys for Tots which distributed toys to children.
“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 Halverson.
WHO: Duval County’s children in need, who otherwise might not receive toys for Christmas. New, unwrapped toys will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis for children 12 years of age and younger (children must be present to receive the toys). The families in need are not required to present an ID or make an application.
WHAT: The Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville
WHEN: Saturday, December 17, 2022 (takes place rain or shine) 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Doors close earlier if all toys are given out.
WHERE: Prime Osborn Convention Center, Downtown Jacksonville, 1000 Water Street (at Bay and Lee Streets), Jacksonville, FL 32204 Free parking. Accessible public transportation nearby.
WHY: Because of the generous donations from many of Jacksonville’s companies and citizens, we will be prepared to give new toys to an estimated 5,000 of Jacksonville’s children in need this Christmas. There are still so many families who cannot buy Christmas toys for their children and still make ends meet. By noon, or earlier if all the toys get distributed, each child who attends on Dec. 17wil l receive several unwrapped toys (of their own choosing) plus a stuffed animal and a bag full of novelty toys. This year, the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville will celebrate its 24th year with the “Wonder of Toys” décor theme along with the anticipated appearance of characters like sports team mascots and Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be among those doing the honor of beginning the party at 9:00 a.m. with the ribbon cutting.
About The Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville:
The Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville, a non-profit organization, was founded in December 1999 by Travis and Margaret Storey with the mission of providing toys for Jacksonville’s children who otherwise might not receive toys for Christmas. It is our hope to collect enough funds to enable the volunteers to hand out as many as 19,000 brand-new toys and over 450 special wheeled items (bikes, scooters, wagons, tot riding toys) which are awarded randomly throughout the morning. A free helmet will be given to each lucky bike winner. Free pencils will also be handed out with the important message “Stay Smart. Stay in School.” We are indeed fortunate this year, all our volunteer needs have been filled by our sponsor employee volunteers.