Christmas is going to be merrier for hundreds of local children Monday because of a tradition started by the Godfather of Soul.
The annual James Brown Toy Giveaway will start at 9 a.m. at James Brown Arena. Children and parents from the Augusta-Aiken area will receive toys for the Christmas holiday, which have been provided by sponsors, said Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas.
“We have registered hundreds of kids,” Brown-Thomas said. “For some of those kids, they won’t get anything for Christmas. I’m getting constant e-mails and calls about parents who are in a really bad way this year and can’t do anything for their kids because they can barely keep a roof over their head and food in their refrigerators.”
A limited number of children will still be able to register for toys Monday morning. Parents and children must arrive early to be considered. Doors will open at 7 a.m., she said.
Starting last year, parents had to preregister their children at Bell Auditorium and James Brown Arena. They were required to bring a valid state ID and Social Security card for themselves and a birth certificate and Social Security card for each child age 1 to 12.
Children must be present in order to receive toys. Organizers use the United Way Clearinghouse to ensure they first serve those who are not registered with other agencies, Brown-Thomas said.
Before the official toy giveaway, children will be able to play on inflatables, get their faces painted and enjoy free snacks, starting at 8 a.m.
The J.A.M.P. Masters, students from the J.B. Academy of Musik Pupils, will perform. They have learned some of Brown’s songs and Christmas tunes, as well as several Christmas classics, Brown-Thomas said.
The giveaway will also be streamed live on The Brown Family Children Foundation’s Web site at jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org, Brown-Thomas said.
“The only way that this has been working out is because of the grace of God,” she said. “I’m thankful to God for blessing us and bringing us people who continuously support the efforts that we are putting forth.”