WSAV’s Holiday Hope toy drive helps serve thousands of children

Holiday Hope

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – That’s a wrap on WSAV News 3’s annual Holiday Hope toy drive.

Thanks to the generosity of the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry communities, thousands of children will wake up Christmas morning with gifts under the tree.

Tuesday marked the toy drive finale with a pair of events in Bluffton and Savannah.

The Savannah Philharmonic‘s brass trio provided some festive tunes as a part of their week of holiday musical performances. Even Santa Claus stopped by for the occasion.

“This is what Christmas is about,” said Coastal Sunrise anchor Ben Katko. “It’s not for us…it’s for kids of the community.”

Katko came to the finale event in the Hostess City at Grayson Stadium, just across the street from WSAV Studios. It was his second toy drop-off of the day with a carload full of gifts from the congregation at Parkway Church of Christ.

“We want to make sure — at WSAV and my church and my neighborhood, everybody — that we take care of the kids and we make sure that they have a good Christmas,” Katko said.

It’s estimated that this year’s Holiday Hope campaign will help ensure over 3,500 children in need receive gifts — an effort that wouldn’t be possible without community partnerships.

For weeks, area businesses have been accepting donations for the toy drive, including select Arrowhead Clinic, Honda, Pride Pools and Walmart locations.

“Let me brag on the community — our customers, our employees, the people — Grainger is just a tool to help make that happen,” said Bill Grainger, owner and president of Grainger Honda.

“I’ve seen a tremendous amount of support from the community,” said Sandra Palmer, market coordinator for Greater Savannah Area Walmart stores. “The boxes actually have been full in every single store that I’ve gone to.”

The joy of giving doesn’t stop there — toy distribution starts Wednesday.

“The parents are going to come through and just be so delighted that their kids are going to be well taken care of because of Holiday Hope, because of your watchers and your viewers, and we appreciate it so much,” said Major Paul Egan of Savannah Salvation Army.

A longtime partner in the Holiday Hope toy drive, Salvation Army has more than doubled the number of children they’re able to support this Christmas.

In the Lowcountry, Bluffton Self Help will be distributing toys to more than 1,000 children in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for help,” said the nonprofit’s executive director Kim Hall, adding, “we’ve also had a lot of folks stepping up and providing donations like you see here.

“It’s really such a magical time. And we do this for the community, all by the community.”

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