‘My babies will have Christmas’

J.P. Hall Children’s Charities Christmas Party provided toys to 1,400 children

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 12/21/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It was 11 p.m. on Dec. 16 when Brittany joined the line forming at the Clay County Fairgrounds to accept toys from the J.P. Hall Children’s Charities Christmas Party.

She …

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‘My babies will have Christmas’

J.P. Hall Children’s Charities Christmas Party provided toys to 1,400 children

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It was 11 p.m. on Dec. 16 when Brittany joined the line forming at the Clay County Fairgrounds to accept toys from the J.P. Hall Children’s Charities Christmas Party.

She was 10 hours early and she wasn’t alone. In fact, the first car arrived five hours earlier at 6.

“This means my babies will have Christmas,” Brittany said. “They wouldn’t have anything without this.”

Brittany can’t work because she’s awaiting surgery for an artificial heart valve. To a carload of children, all 10 or younger, that doesn’t diminish the excited anticipation of waking up to presents on Christmas morning.

That’s why the Christmas Party continues to be one of the biggest charitable events in the county.

Now in its 41st year, more than 1,400 children received a bag of new toys and the opportunity to take home a bicycle. For free. Not only did the charity save Christmas for hundreds of families, it continued to be a springboard to engage the community for common good.

“Every year, you are amazed by the generosity of the people of Clay County,” said J.P. Hall Children’s Charity Chairman and Executive Director Virginia Hall. “To see the looks on children’s faces – and on the parents’ faces – is why we do this.”

Brittany said five people slept in her car and played games for 10 hours while waiting for the doors to open.

“My youngest slept on my chest,” she said. “Nobody complained.”

Clay county children 14 and younger were invited to pick up toys. There was no advanced registration or proof of financial need required. The only condition was the child needed to be present during the drive-thru event inside the Cattleman’s Arena. Everyone in line before the noon cutoff left with toys, Hall said.

As families pulled away, they were greeted by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and told they could pick out a bike. Most were shocked by the offer.

“We had 742 bikes and we gave away all but 12,” Hall said. “And those 12 were sent to Keystone Heights (on Tuesday) to be given away.”

With a car filled with children and bags of toys, Brittany managed to find a bike for every child, although it meant tying several of them on her roof.

“Thank you,” she said while choking back tears. “My babies will have a Merry Christmas.”

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