Christmas comes early for thousands of Jacksonville children in need

20th annual Christmas party brought Santa, toys and smiles for every child

By Brittany Muller - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The doors of the Prime Osborn Convention Center opened at 9 a.m. Saturday, and a mountain of toys were handed out to children of Jacksonville who might not otherwise receive toys for Christmas.

It's the 20th year for the Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville, which collects donations of new, unwrapped toys from businesses, citizens and viewers of WJXT and gives them to Duval County's children in need.

Some families began lining up outside the convention center Friday, and camped out all night to be sure to get toys for their children. Alphonso Dorsey and his family were first in line.

"I’m kind of glad they’re doing this today, and camping out early is just something big that we do every year," Dorsey said.

It's become a tradition for many in Jacksonville. This is the fourth Christmas party Antoinette Davis has attended.

"First time I came, I was way in the corner, but I know now to come overnight and you get a little closer so, I’m almost to the door this year. I’m excited," Davis said.

The chilly weather didn’t stop people from coming out. Many were bundled up in coats and gloves for the wait.

Toys of just about every kind including dolls, cars, games and more - were handed out to families who otherwise might not receive them for Christmas.

Every child who attended the Christmas party today received three toys, a novelty bag and some even received a bike!

As many as 7,000, new, unwrapped toys were handed out to Jacksonville’s kids. 

The theme of this year's party was the "Wonder of Christmas." Guest appearances were made Jaxson de Ville and, of course, Santa Claus.

Watch: Photo Gallery of Christmas Party

News4Jax is a proud sponsor of the event and dozens of staff members were there, handing out toys and putting smiles on the faces of countless children in need.

The Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville is a nonprofit organization. Money is donated throughout the year by local companies and individuals to help buy toys in bulk. 

Organizers said 4,000 children received free toys Saturday, still about 100 were left in line at the end when all toys had been given out.

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