ANDERSON — Ten years ago, Lindsay Brown went to his friends Maureen Duncan and Migual Patterson with a proposal: he wanted to give Christmas toys to 500 kids, and they had to pull it together in under two months.
The three friends pulled off the event and kept the giving spirit going. On Dec. 15, the three friends will celebrate the 10th annual City Wide Toy Giveaway Event at the UAW Hall, 2840 S. Madison Ave., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The giveaway is more than free toys. There will also be free photos with Santa, games, food and more. Each child can put their name in one of five age groups for a chance to win a bike or a tablet, and each age group will have a boy and girl winner, Duncan said.
"There will be a few surprises in there, too," she said. "We like surprises. We like to keep people on their toes."
Brown said he volunteered at the Wilson Boys & Girls Club Breakfast with Santa event in 2008, the last year for the event, and he noticed the day seemed rushed.
"I saw a lot of people rushing around, parents frenzied to go get the toy and it seemed like the kids weren't really enjoying it," he said. "So the next year I went to Maureen and Migual and told them I wanted to do it."
The three friends went to high school together and they have a knack for giving back, but Duncan said she still thought the idea was unattainable.
"I thought it was a crazy idea," she said. "I'd never thought of something like that. I don't know anything about toy giveaways. We didn't know where to get started."
The friends took their charitable spirit from three people to a now 501(c)3 charity, and from 500 kids to nearly 1,500, Duncan said. More than 70 businesses and organizations sponsor the event and more than 100 volunteers show up on the day.
"It's huge, honestly. So many people come together to help," she said. "I cannot believe how big this became."
Brown said next year the event will get bigger, benefiting the whole family rather than just the children.
"We want to touch not only the kids but the families as well," he said. "We just want to help. If you have the ability to help other people, you should reach out and help."
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City Wide Toy Give Away
When: Saturday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: UAW Hall, 2840 S. Madison Ave., Anderson
What: Free toys for children 12 and under, no registration required
Accepts new toys for ages 0-8, no stuffed animals