Santa's helpers were very busy unloading toys Wednesday at his Meridian workshop, better known as the Wesley House.
Marine Corps Reservists and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department enlisted this year in Santa's ranks and collected over 3,000 toys for families in need of a little help this Christmas season.
"Just collecting toys, collecting toys ... everybody's been donating, donating. All the Marines have been standing in the cold. It's just beautiful," said Sgt. Jesabel Gatewood of the U.S. Marine Corps.
And all the toys brought here, all two truckloads of them, will end up under area Christmas trees in just under a week.
"Little elves pack all night, other elves get it out all day. It's just a community working together to provide Christmas to families that are having a hard time," said Nell Grissom, director of Wesley House. "The elves, the Marines, deputies, and other volunteers from the community will be working almost non-stop until Christmas Day, making sure that Christmas is bright for the children of east Mississippi.
"It's hard work, being an elf and all, but it means a lot in your heart when you look out and know a lot of kids will enjoy Christmas because of the effort you put forth," said Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. "Men and women of Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Marine Corps working together, it was a good year."
Santa Claus will serve over 5,000 children because of the work his local 'helpers' have done.
"It's taken the whole community working together," said Grissom. "But to see these guys come in from out of the area and pitch in to this community and work as hard as they have, it really has touched me. It's been a blessing for us."
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How Toys for Tots Works
Source: www.toysfortots.org (Toys for Tots Web site) contributed to this report.