Christmas came a couple days early for more than 300 kids who attended the annual James Brown Family Toy Giveaway on Friday morning.
Many of them enjoyed free food and kid-friendly activities at the James Brown Arena with their families as others took photos with Santa Claus and met with their favorite superheros.
Amie Davis and her daughter-in-law, Angel Story, both of Hephzibah, arrived an hour early for the annual event. The two women worked to keep their children entertained as they waited in a lengthy line for hot refreshments before waiting in an even longer line for toys.
“I’ve never done this before,” Davis said as the children played. “I left one job, got a new job, and the pay was a lot less so there was no extra money for me to do what I really wanted for Christmas.”
The annual giveaway, sponsored through the James Brown Family Foundation, offers a selection of toys to children up to the age of 12.
Davis’ 12-year-old daughter had an iPhone 5 on her wish list for the Christmas holiday but considered alternatives for the toy giveaway.
“I don’t really know what I’ll get,” her daughter, Tina, said, “but if it has anything to do with nails I’ll be good.”
Her 7-year-old sister, Mackenzie, only wished for a doll. She was surprised with two as she was handed her bag of gifts during the giveaway.
“Honestly I love it,” Davis said about the first-time experience. “It’s definitely giving something back to the community, and it’s a legacy as well that they’re definitely living up to.”
Wisline Anthony, 41, of Augusta, found herself coming back for her fourth time this year to support her son, Aaron St. Charles, who volunteers as a face painter.
“He’s been doing this since high school,” she said.
The 19-year-old East Georgia State student said he enjoyed the event.
“It’s really fun,” St. Charles said as he painted a reindeer on Zaryan Dudley’s face. “I like face painting and seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when I do the intricate designs.”
Zaryan’s mother, Chanel, who was also accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter Akira, found the first-time experience worthwhile.
“I’ve always heard about it but I was usually deployed during this time,” she said. “Since I’m retired now I decided to come and see all the good stuff that they supply for the kids for the holidays.”