More than 800 youngsters received toys and bicycles at the annual James Brown Toy Giveaway at James Brown Arena.
The tradition, started in the early 1990s by James Brown, is being continued by the James Brown Family Children Foundation.
“His spirit is with us when we do this,” said Elif Crawford, Brown’s former assistant, who helped coordinate the event. “I can see him smiling.”
Deanna Brown-Thomas, Brown’s daughter, and several other family members were joined by a host of volunteers to distribute gifts to parents and children.
Laura Alday, the mother of nine children, said Christmas would have been bleak without assistance from the Brown family. Her husband has been with and without work all year.
After the giveaway, Alday peered down on six of her children with a bright face and small grin.
They tossed around bags filled with board games, Barbie dolls, a small electronic keyboard and more. Each child chose one toy to play with immediately, and the others were to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.
“I think it’s really exciting to have them all under the tree,” 9-year-old Macin Alday said. “And having all my family there to celebrate.”
Monica Graham called the
toy and bike giveaway a blessing. Without the family’s assistance, Christmas would have been a sad day for her two children, Janelle and Devon, whose father died two years ago.
“To be able to get up Christmas morning and to have something to open, it brings joy to my heart and theirs,” Graham said. “They are a beautiful family all the way around for carrying on the legacy of James Brown.”