Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Charity May Not Reach Toy Goal Giveaway Expects 2,500 Kids at Party

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Charity May Not Reach Toy Goal Giveaway Expects 2,500 Kids at Party

Article excerpt

Byline: Binyamin Appelbaum, Times-Union staff writer

********** CORRECTION December 1, 2001

The Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville will be Dec. 22 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Because of a reporter's error, an incorrect date appeared in a story on Page A-1 yesterday.

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Lu-Anne Cobb bought two copies of the Magnetic Enchanted Kingdom Wednesday. One is for her 3-year-old daughter, Mariah. The other is for a girl she has never met.

"It's just my tiny contribution to make somebody's Christmas a little happier," she said after dropping the game board into a collection box for the J.P. Hall Children's Charities toy giveaway. "To me, Christmas is all about the kids."

The Hall Charities giveaway turns 20 this year. More than 2,500 children are expected to attend the annual party at the Clay County Fairgrounds on Dec. 15. But without an outpouring of last-minute support, there will not be enough toys to go around.

The staff annually orders thousands of toys from the Palatka Kmart, which does not make a profit on the transaction. This year, however, the regional distribution center told the local store that only a small portion of the Hall order will arrive in time for Christmas. That has left the charity scrambling.

The Hall giveaway is not the only toy party in the region. The third annual Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville will be Dec. 23 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Organizers expect up to 10,000 children and said they are on track with their plans.

Another longtime celebration, the Dorcas Drake Christmas Party will celebrate its 45th year with a private party, also Dec. 23. About 1,500 children are expected, said Jo Drake, who was a 2-year-old attendee at her mother's first party. The Drake giveaway was once a much larger event that solicited contributions from the public. However, a combination of uncertainty about its status as a charitable organization and caution about using its traditional firehouse drop-off points led organizers to fund this year's giveaway from private sources, Drake said.

Cobb first heard of the Hall Charities toy shortage as she shopped for Christmas presents at Toys Etc. …

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