Meridian, Miss. WTOK-TV's Toython 2013 brought in a multitude of donations for children during this Christmas season.
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was already at work Monday to organize the toys and get them ready for distribution.
Thousands of toys were collected Friday and Saturday at both Meridian locations of Wal-Mart. The temperatures may have been cold, but hearts were warm as shopper after shopper donated brand new toys for children in need.
RSVP will distribute the gifts to multiple community agencies.
"It was our goal to distribute proportional to the need of each agency, and we are trying to meet five agencies' needs: Wesley House, Hope Village for Children, Care Lodge, Cans for Kids, and The Salvation Army," said Stephanie Womack, RSVP volunteer.
Womack says the numbers of toy donations are up this year. That's good news for children who may not otherwise have received gifts under the tree.
"I think it's always a good thing to try to give our kids of the community a great Christmas," Womack said. "And this year I think it's going to be better than ever because it's going to be extended across five different agencies. So we are hoping to reach more aspects of the community this year, and reach more children."
Joy Jones says it's a privilege to be able to help families in need at Christmas, especially since she sees so many who are trying to survive a traumatic time.
"I think from my experience at Care Lodge, the most exciting part of being able to distribute the toys that we've been given is to see the look on the mothers' faces when they come pick up the gifts," said Jones, shelter director. "Just for the mothers to see all the gifts that their children ask for, that otherwise they wouldn't be able to receive, is just a joy for us to be able to receive and a joy for the parents to be able to receive."
Peavey Electronics and Waters International donated trucks to use in collecting, storing and transporting the gifts. WTOK and Newscenter 11 thank the community for its giving spirit.