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Toy Giveaway Helps Families Have Merry Christmas

SCRANTON — Hundreds of children will have a merry Christmas this year, thanks to some big donations and the hard work of dozens of volunteers. The line ou...
scr toys

SCRANTON -- Hundreds of children will have a merry Christmas this year, thanks to some big donations and the hard work of dozens of volunteers.

The line outside the University of Scranton's Byron Center started forming long before the sun came up.

Robert Blake arrived more than three hours before the doors opened to make sure he picked up gifts for his four children, ranging in age from 3 to 13.  This giveaway means so much to his family.

"Kids would have a little less things to have so this helps out so they can have a little more, and have a merry Christmas," Blake said.

Blake says he has a job, but he has bills and it's tough to make ends meet.  That's what brought him to this line.

By the time the doors opened at 9 a.m., the line had snaked nearly around the building.

Inside, 6,000 toys.

Catholic Social Services and Friends of the Poor make this happen.

"This is my Christmas.  To be able to serve my community any way I can really makes you understand what this holiday season is all about," said Kris Holmes, Catholic Social Services.

"It's such a great feeling to be Santa Claus for families," said Sr. Ann Walsh of Friends of the Poor. "We're so blessed to have so many donors who allow us to do this by donating all the toys and coats and clothes."

People from 600 families pre-registered.  The toys will go to 1,700 children.

The giveaway actually began weeks ago.  It started with the donations, and then the collecting of all those donations, bringing everything to the University of Scranton, sorting it all out, and then getting it set for Tuesday's giveaway.

And there's more.  It takes dozens of volunteers to make this happen.  About 40 came from Holy Cross High School in Dunmore.

"There's a lot of kids that don't really have the same experiences around Christmastime that we do, so we really wanted to give back to the kids that might not have the same kind of Christmas that we do," said Holy Cross senior Conor Nealon.

Their work is far from over.  Many of the volunteers will also work on a Christmas dinner distribution set for Thursday.