By: Mike Rhodes—
Muncie, IN —Dozens of wide-eyed, giggly happy kids and their families received Christmas presents at the YMCA’s Mitchell Early Childhood and Family Center yesterday, courtesy of the Indiana Pacers, and Jakks toy store.
Indiana Pacers Pacemates, Shania and Kayla, Pacers legend Darnell Hillman, and mascots Freddy Fever and Boomer showed up to visit with the children as well as a personal appearance by the jolly old elf himself—Santa Claus.
Toys were lovingly stacked and attractively arranged on the gymnasium floor prior to the gift-giving pandemonium that was soon to come.
Bill Benner is senior VP for corporate, community and public relations for Pacers Sports and Entertainment. He explained how the toy program got started. “Jakks is a toy company based in Santa Monica, California. Stephen Berman of Jakks is a good friend of Herb Simon, so beginning 10 years ago, Jakks started providing toys to the Pacers organization to distribute through youth-serving agencies in Indianapolis and Central Indiana.”
Over the past 10 years, Mr. Berman has donated over 500,000 toys during the holiday season.
Steve Smith, board chair of the YMCA said, “Our community is honored to be chosen as recipients of these toys. So many local families will have a much better Christmas because of this donation.”
While the toys were donated to the YMCA, in the spirit of giving and partnering, the YMCA donated many toys to the Secret Families Christmas Charity and also Blood-N-Fire ministries for those organizations to distribute.
Chad Zaucha, CEO of the Muncie YMCA said, “We know that when we partner with other organizations, we can deepen our impact. We had opportunity to do just that with Secret Families.”
Al Holdren of Secret Families said the toys passed over to the Secret Families Christmas Charity will be delivered to over 360 families in Delaware County during the Secret Families event this weekend.
Photos from the event are below.
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