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Toys for tots gives to 1,500 families (w/video)

By Sara Sneath
Dec. 15, 2013 at 6:15 a.m.
Updated Dec. 16, 2013 at 6:16 a.m.

Marine Staff Sergeant Cesar Araujo, of Victoria, helps sort through bags of toys being distributed as part of the Toys for Tots giveaway in downtown Victoria at DeLeon Plaza. "It's just a great program," Araujo said, "Every kid deserves something for Christmas."

Anna Garcia, 30, of Victoria, stood in the Toys for Tots distribution line downtown Sunday evening for presents to bring home to her four children.

"I'm a single parent with four kids, and I needed just a little bit of help this year," Garcia said.

About 1,500 families registered for the event, which distributed gifts to about 3,000 children, said Elijah Sauseda, the local community organizer for Marine Toys for Tots. Every kid gets at least two toys, he said.

Red and blue bags stuffed with toys were piled around the downtown gazebo. Blue bags represented the Blue Santa Program, and red bags represented Toys for Tots, Sauseda said.

Victoria Police Department's Blue Santa Program has partnered with Victoria Toys for Tots for two years.

The partnership with the Marine Corps was a "no-brainer," said Detective Joseph Felan with the Victoria Police Department.

"We have a lot of veterans that come back and serve as police officers," Felan said.

The toys were collected through 175 drop-off locations throughout the Crossroads and donations from corporate sponsors, Sauseda said.

"Our biggest challenge is finding the kids," Sauseda said. "Some are homeless and don't have phones."

Victoria Toys for Tots partners with school districts to register children in need, he said.

Families who missed the downtown distribution can continue to register this week to receive toys, he said.

"We won't turn anyone away," Sauseda said.

Sunday, more than 6,000 toys were distributed, but Sauseda expects that number to jump to about 10,000 by Christmas Eve.

Robbie Crayton, 33, of Cuero, said she's received toys from Toys for Tots for two years. Crayton registered her seven children in the program through their school, she said.

"It's hard right now," Crayton said. "All kids deserve to open something on Christmas."

Alexis Suniga, 11, of Victoria, said she enjoyed "getting presents and spending time with (her) parents." Though, she added she is still holding out for a bracelet-making kit from Justice.

Janelle Ayala, 6, of Victoria, helped to give out toys at the event. She enjoyed helping other children, she said. An Easy-Bake Oven is all she wants for Christmas, she said. But Janelle wanted her toy early.

"I have $1 in my pocket right now," she said.



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