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Pascagoula group gives away bags of Christmas toys to families in need

After hosting a toy drive for about two months leading up to Christmas, a volunteer group in Pascagoula finally distributed the gifts .
Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 8:46 PM CST
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - After hosting a toy drive for about two months leading up to Christmas, a volunteer group in Pascagoula finally distributed the gifts collected to residents in need Saturday at the Recreation Center.

Jeune Esprit is a community service organization made up of high school girls, and the one responsible for stirring up a little Christmas magic in the flagship city.

“It’s making my heart so warm,” member Mary Elizabeth Foster told WLOX. “Someone was just really excited that their child got a bike, and it just made me so happy because, personally, I loved getting bikes when I was little.”

Foster and her friend Kershlyn Tadlock spent the day organizing and handing off bags of presents to family members for their children, four to 12 years old.

“It makes you feel good about yourself, but then it also makes you proud to be a part of like such a club that does this for the community,” Tadlock said.

On resident Mary Cannon’s way home from a 10-hour work shift, she picked up four free bags filled with gifts for her four children.

“Y’all are awesome. Everyone who donated to all the children out there, they’re awesome. And I thank them,” she said with tears. “They’re gonna have a great Christmas.”

Jeune Esprit sponsor Kelli Johnson said they are providing toys for about 200 kids.

Jeune Esprit sponsor Kelli Johnson says they are providing toys for about 200 kids.
Jeune Esprit sponsor Kelli Johnson says they are providing toys for about 200 kids.(WLOX)

“It’s probably the most we’ve ever had in donations,” she said. “We just want to thank the community. We couldn’t have done it without their help.”

Mashunda Oatis and her son Day-Jon are from New Orleans and came to Pascagoula when Hurricane Ida hit. They are still awaiting FEMA assistance back home.

“We appreciate everything they have done,” she said, taking a bag of toys to go.

16-year-old Kennedy Williams has been a part of Jeune Esprit for two years and praises the program.

“Mothers and fathers with their little children and just the smiles on their faces is something that I will never forget,” she said. “It really gives us the opportunity to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and to help our community in a way that we never could without this organization.”

Organizers said they still have donations coming in and will continue distributing gifts into the week.

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