PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – The Arts and Crafts building at the Jackson County Fairgrounds turned into Santa's Workshop Tuesday. Elves scurried about, reading their lists and trying to fulfill the Christmas wishes of nearly 430 families.
It's been a hectic first distribution day for the Jackson County Toys for Tots Program.
"We got here at 6:30 and we had people camped out from 4:00, waiting at the door. So it was crazy this morning," said Diane Vice.
Since taking over as coordinator of the program last month, Diane Vice has had to learn the ropes. She had very little time to collect donations, buy the toys, and gather names of children in need. There were some glitches along the way. For instance, her volunteers had to make two shopping trips by midday because they ran out of some toys.
"A big difference in getting everything up, but we've enjoyed it. We really have. It's been a great time," said Vice. "We had several little kids come through and cry, 'That's mine! That's mine!' They got excited. And we have some upset mothers and things, but everything's been really good."
Vice's dedication and generosity have touched the hearts of many families in need.
"Because I'm not working right now due to the pregnancy, so I'm excited that we're going to get the help that we need and fortunate enough that this family, the Vice family, is going to help us out. So we'd like to give thanks to them," said Lanarce Newsome of Gautier.
"My kids will have a better Christmas this year and I'm very appreciative," said Amanda Long of Lucedale. "I think it's great. God bless them."
Vice said it's been a rewarding experience overall.
"We've been told 'thank you' so many times and that's what feels good. 'If it wasn't for y'all, we wouldn't have Christmas.' So that's what we're doing it for," said Vice.
The toy distribution continues Wednesday and Thursday from 7am to 7pm. Only families that have pre-registered are allowed to pick-up toys. When asked if she plans to run the program again next year, Vice responded: "I have to do it one more time."