COVID-19 Changes Toy Giveaways in Jacksonville, Clay County for Christmas – Community News

COVID-19 Changes Toy Giveaways in Jacksonville, Clay County for Christmas

At the 39th annual JP Hall Christmas Party last year, Santa waves to families from a fire truck.  Toys were distributed to children in drive-thu format due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will return in that format in 2021.

For the second year in a row, two old Christmas toy giveaways for kids in Jacksonville will help Santa in a variety of sizes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jacksonville’s 23rd Annual Children’s Christmas Party will not take place in person at the quintessential Prime Osborn Convention Center home, but will be handing out toys to needy families through two nonprofit organizations that serve children. And the 40th annual JP Hall Jr. Children’s Charities Christmas Party in Green Cove Springs will return to the Clay County Fairgrounds on December 18, but as a drive-thru toy distribution.

The decision to forgo the in-person event for the second year in a row was painful but necessary, said Diane Halverson, executive director of the Jacksonville event.

“Last year we were disappointed when we had to change… from having our big annual party to distributing toys through other organizations,” she said. “During the second year of the pandemic, we kept a close eye on the virus and knew the threat was still there, especially with the delta variant last fall. With 12,000 people under the roof of the convention center, including 5,000 young children who are not having enough time to get fully vaccinated, it just wasn’t a good idea.”