APPLETON (NBC 26) — For some families, it's a struggle to buy Christmas gifts. It's why many organizations hold toy drives this time of year to make sure children don't have to go without during the holidays.
During December, the back room of B.A.B.E.S., Inc. in Appleton looks more like Santa's workshop. The child abuse prevention program recently hosted its holiday workshop which is an event that young parents rely on to make sure their children feel the magic of Christmas.
"This year, we were going to struggle a little bit with presents, so I'm actually happy we're going to be able to give them at least one present, especially for our family because it's so big," said Sandra Duran with tears in her eyes.
Duran has four small children. Jacqueline Crowder has five. For both families, money is tight.
"My husband just got out of the military, so funds aren't there like they used to be. Adapting to that has been hard, so this is a blessing for us," Crowder explained.
During the three day event, the parents B.A.B.E.S. serves are invited to pick out donated toys for their children.
"Not everybody knows what your child likes, so for you to be able to do that, it's a huge help," said Crowder.
For about three weeks leading up the event, B.A.B.E.S. enlisted the help of four local businesses to serve as collection sites for new, donated toys.
Executive Director Pastor Mahnie said, "We're very grateful for the variety of toys that came through and the quantity of toys that came through. This is an amazing outpour of support from our community."
After parents choose their presents, they pair-up with volunteers to gift wrap them together.
Duran said, "The volunteers are really nice, and they make you feel really comfortable."
Parents can also shop for donated personal hygiene items, such as shampoo and toothpaste, as well as cleaning supplies. T-shirts, undergarments and cold weather clothing were available as well to take home for free.
"It's costly. It's an expensive endeavor to have a family, so if we can do something to help them save money, redirect their dollars to something more critical, then we'll do that," Pastor Mahnie said.
Crowder and Duran are grateful for the support of B.A.B.E.S. and donors in the community, and now they're looking forward to seeing the excitement in their children's eyes on Christmas.
"It feels awesome just knowing that you're not alone and there's other people that have really caring hearts," explained Crowder.
Duran added, "The impact that it has on us is really big, and the hearts that you guys have to even want to help us is amazing. So, thank you so much."
B.A.B.E.S., Inc. offers several services throughout the year to young parents including no-cost respite, counseling, educational support and care packages. Click here for more information.