James Brown toy giveaway attracts a thousand to arena

More than a thousand people came to the James Brown Arena this morning for the 19th annual toy giveaway named after the late soul singer.

Some lined up outside in frigid temperatures before 7 a.m. for a chance at a free holiday gift. Children could choose from among a selection that included stuffed animals, bicycles, dolls, action figures and sports equipment.

Malik Watson, 7, and his brother Isaiah, 6, were near the front of the line. Malik chose a bike, and Isaiah chose an action figure.

Their father, Ronnie, said it was worth the wait.

“Anything that makes my boys happy, I'm with it,” he said.

Deanna Brown Thomas, daughter of the Godfather of Soul and president of the James Brown Family Foundation, said the event is important to continue her father's legacy.

“It was very important to my father,” she said. “He grew up in Augusta and he didn't forget where he came from.”

Businesses including Comcast and individuals contributed toys for the effort.

An exact number of toys donated wasn't available, but volunteers estimated more than 1,000 items were available.

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