Area children experience Christmas joy early

By Katherine Tellez

Area children experience Christmas joy early

December 11, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 4:34 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Every kid deserves at least one present during the holiday season.

Tuesday night, more than 1,000 kids got to pick out their very own Christmas present.

It is all thanks to the Salvation Army and the local U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

The "Share the Spirit" program also included a visit with Santa, games and snacks.

One organizer said the annual event means so much to area families.

"It really might be the only toy that some of them get," said Rich Draeger with the Salvation Army. "I think the fact that they get to pick it themselves makes it just that much more special."

The Salvation Army's Tree of Lights campaign helps fund similar events.

The organization announced Tuesday that any money donated to the red kettles Friday and Saturday will be matched by an anonymous donor up to $10,000.

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