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Wed, Jan. 22

Special delivery: Toys for Tots gives Grand Canyon kids a Christmas to remember

Grand Canyon School students received gifts from the Toys for Tots program Dec. 18. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

Grand Canyon School students received gifts from the Toys for Tots program Dec. 18. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Excited Grand Canyon School students and their parents waited anxiously in the hallway Dec. 18 for a glimpse of the Man with the Bag.

Young and old, children and faculty sang Jingle Bells and Ruolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, hoping the sound of carols would hasten his arrival.

And like magic, it did.

With Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting patiently beside a brightly-lit tree, the children and their families filed in quietly to reveal their Christmas wishes and snap a few photos before receiving a bag of gifts for the family.

Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps charity, has been giving out toys to underprivileged children in the Grand Canyon School District for many years, often at one of hotels in Tusayan. This year, however, Grand Canyon Principal Matt Yost said the decision was made to move the event to the school.

"We noticed last year that not very many people showed up, so we decided to move the event to the school," he said.

Transportation in and out of the park isn't always available to community members without a vehicle, and holding the event at the school ensured more children and their families were able to attend. Additionally, Toys for Tots moved to an online portal this year, which Yost said didn't work for Grand Canyon. Yost said the school administration worked directly with the charity to pull together an event at the school.

"The office staff, Rosa, Alejandra, Lori (Rommel) spent hours pulling together lists, because we have a better pulse on all the children in the community," he said. "They oulled all this together and it was delivered today. It was just a great chance for the whole community to pull together and the kids got toys."

After receiving their bags and posing for a photo with Santa, the children headed down the hall to unwrap their gifts and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies served by school staff and volunteers.

Yost said he plans to continue hosting the event at the school and looks forward to growing it and making it better in the future.

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