Children from Puerto Rico now living in Palm Beach Gardens have new toys to play with this Christmas.
“We’re so happy. For me as her mother, it’s a relief too because we want to give the best Christmas for her, so this is so nice and special for us," Ivonne Villegas Santos said.
“They’re awesome," said her daughter, Isadora. "I finally got more than one thing to show that I love Star Wars.”
The city of Palm Beach Gardens and the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department made sure the children still have something to celebrate despite the difficulties they have been through this year.
“It was devastating," Odalisse Luna said. "We lost our way of life.”
Mayor Maria Marino and police officers gave children from 16 Puerto Rican families multiple toys from the police department’s annual toy drive.
“We wanted them to feel special and have a sense of normalcy," said Greg Blount, executive director of Eagle Arts Academy, where the children attend school.
“It makes us feel much at home," Luna said.
The families have been staying at the Doubletree in Palm Beach Gardens through FEMA funding.
Eagle Arts Academy had spent more than $9,000 on hotel rooms for the families at another hotel before their temporary housing assistance from FEMA began.