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Mineola program provides Christmas for families in need

MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) -

One East Texas town has been preparing all week to make sure Christmas will be a day of joy for a lot of members of its community.

The town of Mineola's "Caring and Sharing" program will distribute Christmas meals, toys, and stockings to families in need this Saturday morning.

As you can see it's quite a bit. It ends up being quite a bit of food. And we have to assort that food, and then we have to estimate how much product's going to go in each box. That way we can try to be fair in our distribution to each individual family," said Ed Castro, Caring and Sharing's Food Coordinator.

Nearly 3-50 families have applied for and will receive a box of food for Christmas dinner. Those boxes are sorted by family size, from one to twelve people.

It's something event coordinators say wouldn't be possible without the help of Santa's elves.

"They come and they volunteer their time and their expertise and their hard work, and that's what makes this work," Castro said.

Members of the community also contribute by taking a paper ornament with the sex and age of a child from ornament trees around town and buying toys for each child 12 and under.

"And the people that take the ornaments off the tree buy a toy, about in the $15 range, for the child and they just drop it off at the different areas in town," said volunteer Cyntha Pierce.

Volunteers have also sewn over 600 felt stockings for children 10 and under. Community members then made sure those stockings were stuffed.

"They're the most generous people in the world. As you can see, they are very well stuffed. Sometimes they're in a bag and the bag is full, too," said Sara Blakemore, Caring and Sharing's Stocking Chairman.

To these volunteers, it's all about helping families make Christmas just a little more special.

"They should have one day out of the year that they don't have to worry about what's going on at home, food, anything like that. They should just wake up, be happy, and have something underneath the tree," Pierce said.

Nearly 1,500 people will be served this weekend -- that includes almost 1,000 children and more than 100 elderly members of the community, who also receive a meal and gift. And it's thanks to large donations from several groups, including the Mineola Independent School District, that that'll be possible.

They are also going to try to have enough food and toys on hand for drop-ins. You have to live within a certain area in and around Mineola to qualify.

The distribution starts at 7:30 Saturday morning at the First United Methodist Church Ministry Center on Newsom street in Mineola.

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