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Inaugural Christmas in July Silent Auction, Vendor Expo held to benefit Salvation Army's Angel Tree program

More than 4,000 kids in Northeast Florida got toys and presents last year through the Angel Tree program.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The First Coast got a little taste of the holidays Saturday for the inaugural Christmas in July Silent Auction and Vendor Expo.

The event at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center benefitted the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida's Angel Tree program. It has special meaning for a woman and her late mother. 

“My mom and I have supported the Salvation Army for the last eight years. We always donate a basket," Marge Holtsinger said.

The brand-new Salvation Army expo is different for Marge Holtsinger. 

“This is my first year coming solo," Holtsinger said. "I lost my mom in February.”

From looking at vendors to taking in more than 400 items at the silent auction, Holtsinger feels this is a great way to honor her mom while helping those in need

“She encouraged me to come today. I really didn’t want to come by myself," Holtsinger said. "We’ve done Celebrity Chefs each year. It was one of her favorite events.”

“I’ve been looking forward to it for so long," Beth Oyler said.

From Christmas ornaments and trees to reindeer and lights, Beth Oyler looked for decorating ideas as the supported the Salvation Army's mission. 

“So many people are in need, so I’m really glad we as a community can do what we can to help them," Oyler said. 

More than 4,000 kids in Northeast Florida got toys and presents last year through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. Most of them otherwise wouldn’t have had a Christmas.

“Families that are in need, the working poor, they actually go through an application process, and if they meet certain requirements, they get their children listed on the Angel Tree program," said NeeCee Lee, with the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida's Women's Auxiliary. 

Holtsinger supports the Angel Tree in memory of her mom.

“I think she’d be happy that I came. It’s helping people that work hard and need help. They just need a little extra boost, so it’s a feel-good outing," Holtsinger said. 

The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida will host the 2nd annual Kettle Krush 5K on Saturday, July 24, at 7:30 a.m. to benefit men, women, and kids getting help through the organization. For more information, click here

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