Pascagoula woman helps save Christmas for hundreds of families - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula woman helps save Christmas for hundreds of needy families

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Ashley Sheldon has turned part of her house in Pascagoula into the new headquarters for Toys for Tots of Jackson, George, and Greene Counties. Ashley Sheldon has turned part of her house in Pascagoula into the new headquarters for Toys for Tots of Jackson, George, and Greene Counties.
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

About 2,000 children will have gifts to open this Christmas, thanks to a Pascagoula woman.   When she heard that the Toys for Tots Program in Jackson County was in jeopardy, she decided to step-in to help. The woman is determined to save Christmas for many families in need.

Ashley Sheldon has turned part of her house in Pascagoula into the new headquarters for Toys for Tots of Jackson, George, and Greene Counties.

"I operate it out of my house, my front living room, and a lap top," said Sheldon.

Sheldon took charge of the program this year, when she heard that the current coordinator, Diane Vice, couldn't do it anymore. Vice took over the program in 2010, when she found out that it had been canceled that year. However, Vice said she couldn't be in charge anymore, because she needed to devote more time to her construction business and her family.

"When she decided to step down, it's just something I really knew in my heart that I wanted to do," said Sheldon. "After I had my little boy, I realized I can give him anything he wants and there are families out there that can't do that."

Since October, Sheldon has been collecting new toys to distribute to needy boys and girls this Christmas.

"I feel privileged. It makes me feel honored honestly to be able to help children and help families out who otherwise wouldn't be able to help themselves," said Sheldon.

Sheldon is busy organizing numerous fund raisers, running registration drives, and shopping for toys with donated money. On top of that, she's taking care of her two-year-old son, Brees.  

So far, nearly 400-families have signed-up for the program and donations are piling up. Not bad, for a one-woman operation.

"It is a lot of work. If I did not have my husband and my family behind me 100-percent, there is no way that I could do it," said Sheldon.

"I think it's fantastic that Ashley has taken this job on for Toys for Tots, especially here in Pascagoula and Jackson County, too. It's something we feel is so important to the needy children of the areas that she serves," said Karl Steinberger, an attorney whose law firm in Pascagoula is one of the Toys for Tots collection sites.

"I don't work full time, so this is my job right now. Even though I don't get paid in money, I get paid in blessings and yeah, it takes a lot," said Sheldon.

"People are always asking me, 'Are you going to do it again next year?' and my answer is, 'Yes, definitely.' As long as my health, my son's health, as long as the Lord's willing, I'm going to keep on," she added.

Sheldon is still collecting new toys for children ages 12 and under. Boxes are placed at schools and businesses throughout the three counties. Online registration for Toys for Tots continues this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The toys will be distributed December 14-16.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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