Readers of The Explorer gave plenty of families a reason to smile this holiday season, donating toys, gift cards and more than $1,000 in cash.

The donations went to the Interfaith Community Services (ICS) holiday gift program. This year, ICS delivered gifts and meals to more than 150 families.

On Dec. 19, one of those lucky families got a special visit from Santa Claus and his helpers. Presents were delivered to the family of five, which includes Hudson, 4, Caleb, 2 and seven-month old Arden.

As Santa, played by Michael Michaud, handed out candy canes and gifts, Hudson and Caleb danced around.

The children’s mother said it has been a rough year.

“We had fake Christmas presents under the tree,” she said. “It’s really great to have real ones for them to open now. This is a true blessing.”

ICS Development Director Deborah Carr said, “The holidays are particularly difficult for so many of the families. This year, we had 150 families hoping to be adopted for our Gifts of Love program, which provides toys and other items to brighten the holidays for those experiencing financial hardship, who otherwise might be going without. This is a big jump over previous years, and we were wondering how we were going to collect enough items to meet the need. This wonderful partnership with The Explorer arrived just in time and was such a blessing in helping us reach out to more families who were turning to us. We were just overwhelmed by the generosity of Explorer readers. We, and, especially the families we serve, are extremely grateful for your support.”  

Between Dec. 15 and Dec. 23, ICS volunteers and employees worked to deliver presents and food to the 150 families throughout Marana and Tucson.

“The amount of support readers showed this year either through donating toys or food, or money was incredible,” said Explorer General Manager Jaime Hood. “We couldn’t be more excited by the turnout and to have partnered with ICS this season.”

The winner of the iPad Mini is Charles Taylor.

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