Christmas came early for thousands of Amarillo kids

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Santa made an early visit to Amarillo today at the largest toy drive in the Texas panhandle.

They all have different stories, but one thing in common, the need for a little Christmas magic in a year when times are tough. Today the wishes of many kids came true, thanks to a very special event.

He made his list and he checked it twice, and today Santa Claus came to town to do something very nice.

He filled the Christmas wishes of thousands of Amarillo children, who may not otherwise find something in their stockings this year.

Mother of two, Melanie Franklin says, "We are all struggling this year. The economy has been terrible. It's been very hard and Christmas is going to be very tight. We are so grateful for the gifts we have received."

They waited in a line wrapped around the building, for their chance to see Santa and take home a new toy or two.

Mother of four, Angela Apodaca says, "They couldn't wait to walk in the doors and see Santa and get the gifts."

But for these families, the wait was well worth it.

Franklin explains, "It's just great for the kids that may not have very much for Christmas to get something and still be excited and have the spirit of Christmas."

It made putting presents under the tree this year possible for these families facing tough times.

Apodaca explains, "My husband is the only one who works. I am a stay at home mom, so I watch the kids while he works. Most of our money goes toward bills and house payments, so we are stuck in the middle."

Which is why Santa and his helpers gave away at least 8,000 gifts to the crowd of almost 5,000 people.

NewsChannel 10 Media General Manager Brent McClure says, "It's very important this happens this year because of the economy and everything else that's happening. This is where our children get to see the spirit of Christmas."

It's all in thanks to the U.S. Marines, Toys for Tots and NewsChannel 10 Media, who collected the nearly 100 bikes, 2,000 toys, and 6,000 books to give away today.       

This is the 11th year the event has spread some Christmas cheer to Amarillo.