Christmas Comes Early For Tiny Tots In Gulfport

"Do you know what a surprise is?" a Head Start teacher asked a group of children.

"Yeah!" they responded with excitement.

The Christmas surprises arrived in a big box Friday morning. Inside were 55-gifts, one for each child in the Home-Based Program at the Harry C. Tartt Head Start Center in Gulfport. The tiny tots couldn't wait to tear off the festive wrapping.

"You can open your gifts," the teacher finally announced.

"It's Pokemon!" one boy said after opening his gift.

"A Pooh bear and a teddy bear," said another boy.

"I got a dolly," said four year old Skyla Snyder. "Yeah, I wanted that one, because it's pretty."

"I don't want to get emotional," said Gwen Newsome with Head Start. "I get kind of upset when we get with the children and everything.  But just to see the excitement on their face, and the parents."

"It was nice. It's unexpected," said LaDonna Lightell of D'Iberville. Her four year old son David got a box of action figures.

But the surprises didn't end there.

"You think you want a coat?" Newsome asked the children.

"Yeah!" they answered.

Each boy and girl also received a brand, new coat. They eagerly tried on their gifts and showed them off to their parents. What a fitting way to share the warmth and joy of the season with children in need.

"We serve poverty children," Newsome said. "They just make them happy.  Give them that time when they can have that smile without putting in a lot of effort."

About 700 children in the Head Start Program have been receiving toys throughout the week. The gifts came from Toys for Tots.  The coats were donated by Operation Warm, based in Pennsylvania.