ASHWAUBENON, Wis. The past few weeks, the Green Bay community has been collecting for the US Marine Corps' "Toys for Tots," and now it's time to give them away. The Brown County Salvation Army Christmas distribution began Wednesday and ended Thursday at Shopko Hall in Ashwaubenon.
Lieutenant Jake Turner with the Salvation Army says he's seeing smiles while walking around Shopko Hall on Thursday.
"I've seen a great sense of joy as I have been walking around -- people's smiles on their faces that they've gotten to pick the toys for the kids as well as seeing a lot of people crying because they're overwhelmed with the emotion that they get to get their kids something that maybe they weren't able to get," said Turner.
"I think this is great. It really helps us parents out and there's such a huge selection here. It was a lot more than I thought it was going to be," said Amanda Rogers, who’s picking out toys for her two kids.
Sharon Vanderperren is a volunteer shopper. She says every year she commits to helping parents pick out toys.
“They might want Legos, they might like all different toys, but it's fun, they're all very receptive, we've had fun with all of them," said Vanderperren.
More than 1,800 Brown County families will receive Christmas assistance between the two distribution days, which will ensure 4,900 kids will get toys under their Christmas tree this year.
"I love to see how many families did donate this year. They said they won't be out of toys this year, which is great," said Vanderperren.
Turner says without the help of volunteers and the community, “Toys for Tots” would not be possible.
"We’re just very thankful for the Green Bay community and all the support that they're doing for the Salvation Army to make this happen because without them we wouldn't be able to do this," said Turner.
"I have done this for so many years that it is just a tradition for me to have to be able to come and do it, I love doing it," Vanderperren added.