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      Toys for Tots kicks off the season of giving

      Halloween just ended, but Christmas shopping has already begun.

      Thanks to generous donations last year, Toys for Tots is already buying gifts for children this Christmas, but they are still in need of more.

      The holiday spirit was in full swing Friday morning at the Toys ~R TM Us in McAllen where law enforcement officers from across the valley were shopping for toys for needy children this Christmas season.

      "There's nothing better for kids to wake up on Christmas morning and have toys under the tree and we are able to provide that for a lot of families in the Harlingen area, Harlingen police officer Jeff Dixie said.

      This is Dixie TMs second year with Toys for Tot, last year his department distributed about 8,000 toys.

      "It's a joy from my heart. This is a time for giving and giving back and it's good to see our community is giving back, Dixie said. "Our partnerships with the different businesses and then with the Marines, we are able to reach out to even more kids and reach more homes."

      McAllen Police have put on Christmas for kids for 12 years, joining with Toys for Tots for the first time this year they hope to reach even more children.

      "It TMs just heartwarming to see them come through the line and see them leave with a smile on their face because they got a toy for Christmas, Mcallen Police Capt. Irene Luna said.

      Whether a child is 6 months or 16 years old, a small donation can make a big difference.

      "Everybody kind of forgets that the teenagers miss out on Christmas too and it hurts them just as much as any other child, Marine Sgt. Matthew Tafoya said.

      Tafoya hopes to collect and distribute more than 20,000 toys this year.

      "We are always hurting for that little bit more. Every little bit helps and it goes a long, long way to help a child for Christmas, Tafoya said.

      Toys for Tots is collecting gifts for kids of all ages but there is a special need for children under 3 years old and as well as teenagers.

      Donations collected locally stay in the Rio Grande Valley.