Volunteers prep toys for Children's Christmas Party


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4Jax viewers donated hundreds of toys to the station's annual holiday toy drive, and the fun begins Saturday when the toys are handed out to children at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

Volunteers have worked hard to set up the annual Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville. They might not have been dressed as elves, but they gave Santa a hand in building the toys to get them ready for the party.

Russ Rader and several other volunteers spent the day transforming the convention center into a winter wonderland.

“I actually even take vacation to come down to do this,” said Dale Wittschen, who's been volunteering for the party for five years.

It's an incredible event for families in Jacksonville who may need some help with making Christmas possible this year. At least 23,000 toys have been collected, and round 8,000 children are expected to attend.

“It's just like going into a department store and saying, 'Hey, I want that, that and that,' and we're going to give you that, that and that for free!”  Wittschen said.

Families don't need to wait in line for the chance at a bicycle. Every child has an equal chance of taking home a bike, and each one comes with a helmet.

Diane Halverson, the director of the party, said the Jacksonville community once again proved that this is the season of giving -- from scooters and bikes to rip-sticks and toys.

“It's a fun day for the parents and the kids together, and it's time to be together,” Halverson said. “It'll be nice out, and it'll just be a fun time.”

The party begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Prime Osborn. Any child 12 and younger can come to the party. They'll get three tickets each to exchange for toys, and a chance to win a bike.