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Former Toys for Tots recipient now volunteers to help spread holiday cheer

United Way will host drive up campaign due to COVID-19
Posted at 9:55 PM, Dec 10, 2020

STUART, Fla. — Thousands of toys are being collected for kids inside a warehouse at the Martin County Fairgrounds.

The Toys for Tots campaign, hosted by the United Way of Martin County, will gift 1,800 kids with gifts this holiday season.

"It's really personal for me," said Alannah Ghazal, volunteer. "I really enjoy seeing the difference it makes.

Ghazal said when she was a child, her family was one that received gifts from the Toys for Tots program.

"I actually was part of a family that used this growing up so it changed my holiday season," said Ghazal.

She's been volunteering with the campaign in Martin County for three years and said that growing up, their work meant everything to her each Christmas.

"It's really great to be on the other side of it," said Ghazal. "I think that's the goal for us is to make sure that those children don't feel like they're lacking what other children have."

Beginning Wednesday, the United Way will begin distributing the gifts to underprivileged families.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the agency will now host up a drive-up event instead of letting families pick out their own gifts with volunteers.

"We'll check them in," said Carol Houwarrt-Diez, CEO, United Way of Martin County. "They will drive through. They'll stop here and get all of their toys."

Houwarrt-Diez said normally families would also receive food for a holiday meal.

This year, each family will receive two weeks of groceries instead.

Ghazal said even years later, her community continues to show up for underprivileged families.

"Every year I'm surprised," said Ghazal. It's not a bad thing. It actually just furthers that sense of community involvement which is why I settled here. I love my home."