Party at the Willcox benefits Toys for Tots
Agnes Hobson couldn't resist bringing children Austin and Annie to the Willcox Inn's Christmas party Monday.They got their photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Annie got to ride a pony. But Hobson also wanted her kids to understand the event's connection to Toys for Tots, the program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve since 1947."We're going by the Salvation Army tomorrow (Tuesday) to help with the distribution," said Hobson. "It's important to work on letting my children know the real reason for Christmas."Willcox owners Geoff and Shannon Ellis collaborated with Aiken commercial photographer Todd Lista, who donated his time to take photos of kids with Santa in exchange for toy or monetary donations for Toys for Toys."We started this last year," said Shannon Ellis. "We recognized the need that a lot of families can't afford to do what they want for Christmas. This is a perfect place to have Santa, such a great environment. It's fun to have everybody here."Lane Parker, lead coordinator with the Marine Corps League Detachment 939, said Aiken began its own campaign just last year. The distribution that began at the Salvation Army office Monday is expected to provide toys for more than 1,400 children."It's just great for us," Parker said. "When you see the generosity of our community in coming out to support these kids, it brings a tear to your eye and joy to your heart. We just want to make sure kids have a great Christmas."Mary Boswell said she and children Garrett and Caroline planned to stick around the Willcox for a while. Pianist Hal Shrek was scheduled to lead a songfest of Christmas carols."I want my children to know that it's better to give than to receive," Boswell said. "We've been involved in church so that they understand that Jesus came back to save us and they can give back to other people."Contact Rob Novit at email@example.com.