GLOUCESTER, Va. -- Charlotte Kirby is on a mission to make sure children truly have a Merry Christmas.
"It saddens me that some people don't get to experience it,” She told News 3.
That is why she started Charlotte's Annual Toy Drive, providing toys for children for free. She got the idea when she was four years old.
"I wanted to have a place for parents to shop around for their kids and not just get whatever is handed for them."
It started in West Virginia, where they lived before moving to Gloucester. It is her first toy drive in Gloucester, and helping her is the Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church.
"We have an idea of how to do everything, so that's really better from starting from nothing,” Charlotte said.
So far, Charlotte has already gotten several donations of toys from the local community. She said she received around 1,500 donations when she started eight years ago and it grew into a success.
She received recognition for her charity work, including a Jefferson Award and a letter from the former governor of West Virginia.
"It wasn't really about the award,” Charlotte explained. “I wasn't really thinking much about that. I was trying to focus more on getting publicity - not for me, but for the toy drive."
Helping her was her mom, Belynda. She said Charlotte was so eager to help needy children that she proposed a yard sale, also when Charlotte was four, and sell her toys.
“I felt her heart was in the right place with it,” Belynda said. “I was completely shocked over the fact she wanted it to be such a big event."
The event did bring smiles to parents and children. The daughter-and-mom duo spoke of a laid-off gas worker they met who attended one of the toy giveaways.
"He didn't have enough money to buy Christmas presents for his kids,” Charlotte said.
"To see this grown man in tears,” Belynda added, “saying that he didn't know how to provide for Christmas, until that morning."
The organization is still accepting donations through Dec. 21. If you would like to donate a toy, you can drop off your donation at the Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church located at 3900 George Washington Memorial Highway in Hayes.
There are also drop-off boxes at the following businesses:
- Eggheads Diner
- The Nurtury
- On Point Hair Salon
- Short Lane Ice Cream
- Farmer's Daughter
- Juan's Mexican Cafe
- Daddio's Sub
You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Parents who would like to inquire about receiving a toy for their child can also send in email to the same email address. There is no income verification.
The giveaway is Dec. 22. Those attending the giveaway are advised to wear a face covering and will have their temperatures taken at the entrance.