Local parents picked up Christmas gifts for their children Saturday morning at the Tallassee Recreation Center. The rec center floor was filled with bicycles of all sizes and boxes filled to the max with toys for good girls and boys all donated through the

community organization, UNITY ITC.

"The toy drive went excellent," co-founder Sonya Thornton said. "There were a lot of people in the community that pulled together to get some of the bigger ticket items like the bicycles."

In total, 36 community members gave to the toy drive. In addition, a local business gave a substantial $1,000 grant to the toy drive.

"Special thanks to the local Walmart for the assistance also,” Thornton said.

Sonya Thornton and co-founder Courtney Thornton said there was a void in the

community that needed to be filled.

"One of the things that really tipped the scale for UNITY to want to help was the fact that there was a lot of talk amongst the community about local factories cutting hours and even laying off and it really sparked the idea that we could possibly help,” Sonya Thornton said.

Originally the toy drive set out to serve only a handful of families in the community, but that number quickly grew.

"We had set a goal to try and help five families," Thornton said. "With everyone's help, we blew that number out of the water with 14 families and 37 kids."

UNITY is an acronym for Understanding Needs Improves Tomorrow's You, and the organization aims at unifying the community. The toy drive did just that.

"Unity amongst the community is our goal," Thornton said. "And without the community coming together to support the toy drive, it could not have been possible."

When asked why the organization wanted to hold this toy drive, the answer was simple.

"We didn't want to see children go without, or for parents to feel the heartache of not being able to give to their children," Thornton said.