An annual toy giveaway in McAlester will look different this year, but organizers want it to be the biggest event they've done.
Organizers gave away about 800 toys in the first annual J. Michael Miller Christmas Toy Giveaway in 2016 and 5,000 a year ago — and they want to give out more this year.
“Hopefully we’ll almost double it,” said Reed Marcum, a McAlester High School student. “We want to get close to 10,000.”
Marcum and, his mother, Angie Miller, and his stepfather, McAlester attorney J. Michael Miller, organize the event each with the help of several family members and volunteers.
Hundreds have lined the sidewalk leading up to the J. Michael Miller law offices on Carl Albert Parkway each year — but organizers implemented a new location, route and precautions to help prevent community spread of the coronavirus.
This year's event is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 12 this year and will be a drive-through event at Ragan Auto at 306 E. Wyandotte Ave. in McAlester.
“We’ll set up all the toys in their shop and they’ll get to drive through and pick out their toy,” Angie Miller said.
Organizers said everyone in line will be asked to stay in their vehicle and children can point out the toy they want.
Volunteers at the event and anyone walking through the line will also be required to wear a protective face covering.
The changes are similar to ones they made to the annual book bag giveaway prior to the academic year — which Reed said was one of the smoothest events they've had.
Organizers said the events are in memory of Hudson Campbell — and it was never a question if they were going to host this year’s toy giveaway.
“It was along the lines of ‘yeah, no matter what, it’s going to happen,’” Reed said. “I don’t think much was going to stop us from making this happen.”
“We would figure out a way,” J. Michael said.
J. Michael said families have driven to the event from as far as Tulsa or Fort Smith, Arkansas to enjoy the event.
“That’s just amazing that they want to come down and be a part of it,” J. Michael said. “And it’s amazing that you really don’t know that there’s such a need for it until you see that people are willing to stand in line to see Santa and for a toy.
“If you do something locally like that, it’s really good for the children,” he added. “It’s good for them to participate in all parts of Christmas.”
Anyone wanting to get involved as a donor can drop off items at the J. Michael Miller Law Office or contact Angie Miller through Facebook.
Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org