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Jaffa Shrine gives away more than 400 gifts for Christmas

For over 50 years, the Jaffa Shriners have been sharing Christmas with the community. (WJAC)

ALTOONA, Pa. — Christmas is a season of joy, and Altoona volunteers are giving.

Hundreds of children got the chance to enjoy Christmas early at the annual kids' Christmas party hosted by the Jaffa Shriners.

"We get in the holiday spirit with this," Altoona parent Carla Foust said.

For over 50 years, the Jaffa Shriners have been sharing Christmas with the community.

"I’m so excited to meet Santa Claus," one of the kids said.

On Sunday, Santa and Mrs. Claus took an early trip from the North Pole. Mrs. Claus had story time, where she read the entire audience a short story.

"What do you want for Christmas?" Santa said as the kids lined up.

"The girls love it,” Foust said. “This is our third year. They do such a great job, they have so much fun."

Volunteers served food to over 1,300 people, and then some special friends joined the kids and families on the dance floor.

"I'm so excited," a little girl said.

The entire party is free of charge. One parent says this is Christmas for them.

"It helps some of the families that don't get to do a lot of the stuff or go see Santa Claus," Foust said.

One of the biggest surprises was saved for last.

"The whole stage is full," President of the Jaffa Shrine Christmas Party Club Lanny Edwards said.

Hundreds and hundreds of gifts were wrapped and ready to go for the kids.

"It's a thrill to see all the smiles, and every once in a while, you get a tear," Edwards said.

Although the event is over, the work for volunteers isn't done yet. On Monday, organizers will start planning for next year's event.

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