PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Gulf County, thanks to the efforts of a North Carolina couple. Al and Leah Maulding are originally from the Florida Panhandle but now call North Carolina home. After Hurricane Michael hit, they knew they wanted to do something to help out.
What started as a small idea by Leah to bring a few thousand toys to the Port St. Joe area grew into something larger. With the help of social media and the Junior Service League of Port St. Joe, hundreds of children will get a special Christmas this year through donated toys.
The Mauldings were able to gather more than 5,000 items from the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama as they made the trip back to Port St. Joe to organize the event.
The Christmas for Port St. Joe Holiday Celebration kicks off on Thursday, December 20 at 5:30 p.m. and will last until 8:30 p.m at Port St. Joe Elementary. The event is free to any resident from Gulf County and Mexico Beach. Families can show up to enjoy the gifts, pictures with Santa, holiday lights and music.