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Billings families receive Christmas gifts from Toys For Tots

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Posted at 10:46 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 07:59:28-05

BILLINGS - It's an annual tradition that warms the hearts and homes of families and children across Billings this holiday season.

Toys For Tots will hand out nearly 7,500 presents, making sure everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

The U.S. Marine Corps and volunteers have been helping families find toys and presents during the distribution part of Toys for Tots since Tuesday.

They have gifts for about 1,600 families this year and already it's like Christmas at the MetraPark Expo Center.

This is the first year and the first day for volunteer Ambrosia Barnier, and she's already finding the true meaning of Christmas.

"It was awesome," said Ambrosia. "It's super fun and it's cool because not only are you helping them but they also tell you, like, their story when you're going along with them. I loved it. I'm doing it tomorrow, and I want to do it every year now just like she does."

Barnier pointed to her mom, who also is helping along with their Wells Fargo co-workers.

"When she was a baby, I needed Toys for Tots," said mom Christtina Daugherty. "And I've volunteered for the last 10 years to make sure other families get toys."

Debbie Johnson, also a Wells Fargo volunteer, has been helping parents shop at Toys for Tots for five years.

"I just love the reactions of the parents and how I see the community coming together," Johnson said.

"It's a good thing for the parents to pick out, come down here and feel the Christmas cheer," said Shawna Parenteau, who was shopping for her sons. "And it's a nice warm feeling."

"Great experience," said Angela Clifton, who shopped for her daughters. "It always is. It really enhances the community and especially when there's hard times, which we're going through."

And Wednesday on Q2, Ed McIntosh highlighted a very special volunteer, wise beyond her years.

"She's eight years old," he said. "Her name is Charlee. She told her dad that this year she want to give her toys to Toys for Tots and go out and help out with the distribution."

"Very humbling thing to see a little girl that age have that feeling and that support in her heart to give back to her community," said 1st Sgt. Tyler Haas of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marines have seen a lot of community giving this week and will help 1,600 families with 7,500 children.

"It makes the parent's day to know that they don't have to stress about it and their kids don't have to feel left out or like they're not experiencing a proper childhood," said staff Sgt. David Dennis of the U.S. Marine Corps.

And it's Christmas that has brought them all together.

"Jesus, that's the main part of Christmas," Clifton said. "You know, it's his birthday."

"Everybody needs hope and Christmas is hope," Johnson said.

Friday is the final day for parents to pick up gifts.

On Saturday, Toys For Tots will draw from a raffle for the higher ticket presents.