Belvidere Mission Hands Out Toys to 2,900 Kids

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BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- Nearly three thousand local kids will now wake up with presents under the tree this Christmas. It's a holiday tradition that almost ended this year due to low donations at one of the Stateline’s largest toy drives.

Jeff Dodd is a father of three soon to be four kids. He showed up four hours early to the annual toy giveaway hosted by His Glory Belvidere Mission.

"I lost my job 4 months ago so if it weren’t for this we wouldn’t be able to get the kids anything for Christmas. We're pretty grateful," says Dodd.

Raquel Rivera is a single mom. She says she's grateful the generosity of the public will help brighten up Christmas morning for her family.

"With three kids you struggle, mine are 6, 4 and 2, they’re at the age where they see it on TV and want it so it’s great they have this out here," says Rivera.

This is the 19th year that the mission has hosted a toy giveaway for struggling Boone County families. This is the first year for Mike Summers. He says it's been hard to provide for his six kids on a part time salary.

"When you go through tough times, you go through them as a family and that’s what the holidays are about. They’re about family," says Summers. "We’re here as a family and hope to get something nice for the kids under the tree for Christmas."

Organizers say, they worried about turning people away, with fewer toys and a larger number of families in need in 2012, plus two weeks ago they only had about half the toys they expected to give away.

“I feel it’s pretty close but God has definitely provided. I think they’ll be a gift for every child,” says Joh Norek, who’s helped organize the giveaway since he was a kid.

By the end of the night more than 2900 kids received presents, all hidden in white bags so they'd be surprised on Christmas morning. Dodd says, the kindness of others will go a long way for his family this season.

Organizers say they were very down to the wire but ended up receiving many toys on the day of the giveaway from volunteers and other generous donors.

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