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Toys for Tots provides gifts to 2,700 Linn County kids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- As families focus on getting gifts wrapped ahead of the Holiday season, the annual Toys for Tots event is making sure every child's wish comes true.

The Toys for Tots Foundation is helping the parents of 2,700 Linn County children this year alone.

"We honestly did not know how we were going to do Christmas," said Athena Anderson, a Cedar Rapids mom.

It's a thought that weighs heavy for any parent around the Holidays, especially Anderson this year.

"I'm shopping for my kids, I've got 3 boys at home and it's been a rough year," said Anderson.

This year Anderson and her husband welcomed a new baby, but three months early.

Months of hospital stays left them with mounting medical bills.

"He spent 3 months of his life in the NICU, so financially it's been one heck of a year. My husband missed three months because of it and he was the only breadwinner in our home," said Anderson.

Since then she says they've been trying to get caught up on bills, making money tight.

It's a similar situation for many of the parents shopping through assorted toys and books.

Chris Wright, a 20-year-volunteer with Toys for Tots says today, is where the magic happens.

"That's the big thing, helping out the kids and helping the parents breathe, take that little break and smile," said Wright. \

Every toy, game, book, and stuffed animals available for families were all donated by the community. Taking some of the pressure of the holiday's off Linn County families.

"It's stressful. I mean when you've got young kids, they still expect Santa is going to come through and they're going to get presents on Christmas morning. When you don't know how you're going to do that, it's hard. I mean we were looking at pulling toys out fo the toy box to give them and hope that they don't remember and that's not fun," said Anderson.

"When you've got people who are in financial difficulties it's so much harder. You've got to choose between you know paying the electric bill or buying a lot of toys," said Wright.

This year, that won't be the case.

"I know that they'll have their Santa gifts… Santa will make it to our household," said Anderson.

To get a Toys for Tots donation box at your workplace, contact your local Salvation Army.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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