Project 25 volunteers shop for Christmas presents for children

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Carts were filling up Tuesday at the Walmart in Callaway as volunteers for the Bay County Sheriff's Office Project 25 came out to shop for children who might not have any presents for Christmas otherwise.

"[Volunteers] will get a bag with a child's name on it and age. They will put it in their basket. They'll go back and shop and I'll tell them the amount of money they can spend," Becky Johns, Project 25 Coordinator said, "and then a Walmart associate will come and get the basket, run it through the register and we pay for it."

Each shopper was given $75 to spend on gifts based on the child's age.

Project 25 started 37 years ago and each year it brings out people like Beverly George. She's been helping for 17 years.

"[Project 25] leaves a big impression on me knowing that the kids on Christmas morning have opened up something that I've picked out for them and it's just a big thrill for me," George said.

This year George was joined by her granddaughter who filled up her cart for the same reason.

"Just coming out here and shopping for them, that means a lot to their parents," Summer Priest, George's granddaughter said. "They are so blessed that we're actually doing something for them so they can have a Christmas."

Shopping carts with toys rolled up and down the aisles until the items were checked out and bagged.

Bay County Sheriff's Office junior deputies helped load up a large truck with the bags of toys.

"Thank you to everyone who came out and helped at this event, and everyone who helped put it together," Brianna Pitts, a Project 25 shopper said. "It's really phenomenal and I'm just amazed at how many people came out tonight."

Organizers raised enough money to get presents for almost 600 children.

People can still donate new, unwrapped toys or make a monetary donation to the Bay County Sheriff's Office to support Project 25. Donations will be accepted until Christmas Eve and can be dropped off at the Sheriff's Office Monday through Friday during business hours.