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Christmas comes in May

Two teen sisters gather gifts for Jamaican children

From left, Elder Rodney Showalter helps Elder Chevaugn Jones and Elder Justin Heatwole sort toys.
From left, Elder Rodney Showalter helps Elder Chevaugn Jones and Elder Justin Heatwole sort toys. Photo: Photo courtesy of Elder Rodney Showalter

MAY PEN, Jamaica — A group of children with disabilities enjoyed Christmas in May here, thanks largely to two sisters from Provo, Utah.

Tonya and Heidi Showalter, ages 17 and 15, respectively, organized a toy drive last November to help brighten the holiday season for several Jamaican children. But the toys did not arrive in Jamaica in time for a Christmas party.

So the gifts were handed out May 14 during a spring function. Ten disabled children each chose a toy from a large pile of goodies collected months earlier by the Showalter girls in Utah. Trevor Weir, who presides of the Mandeville Jamaica District, and Clarendon Group Homes Director Tim Lancaster each donned white paper beards and red Santa Clause hats to distribute the toys. A group of full-time missionaries and members from the May Pen Branch helped bag the toys and assist with the Christmas in May party.

The Jamaica-based Clarendon group will give out the remainder of the toys to needy children as they are needed.

Tonya and Heidi collected the boxes of toys last winter from dozens of fellow Church members in Provo.

"Some people gave money, one person gave $50 toward the postage," Heidi said. "I thought people were very generous."

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