Thousands attend annual Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville

About 23,000 toys were available for children

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor, Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thousands of people were lined up outside the Prime Osborn Convention Center overnight waiting for the doors to open Saturday morning for the annual Children’s Christmas Party. 

About 7,000 kids and their parents stood in line for toys that News4Jax collected from viewers. Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold outside this year. 

“We've been here since 8:30 last night,” Gloria Jones said. 

The doors opened and families entered a beautifully decorated party to be greeted by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Hundreds of volunteers, including some from News4Jax, were on hand. 

Footballs, dolls, basketballs, bikes and more were given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Children were given three tickets that could be exchanged for toys. Some of the tickets were randomly stamped for that child to receive a bicycle.

“This is their Christmas,” Children’s Christmas Party Chairman of the Board Tad Strong said. “I gave a bike away in 2008 and have been hooked ever since.”

A total of 23,000 toys were available for children -- plenty for every family that came out.

"It really helps," said Alison Fisher, a mother of four. "We make it a family event every year. It's kind of like our tradition."

No child should go without toys at Christmas, and that's why every year for 19 years The Children's Christmas Party is put on.

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. 

IMAGES: Annual Children's Christmas Party

“Yeah, we probably wouldn't be able to have Christmas without it,” Kayleigh Chastain, who brought her two daughters, said. “So we are really thankful they are doing this.”

Volunteers told News4Jax it was a gift for them to see the kids walk away with such smiles.

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