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Toledo organization buys gifts for kids in need, honors veteran

Non-profit organization Herb's Heroes is helping out some 230 families this year with gifts and essentials.

TOLEDO, Ohio —
It wasn't too long ago that Dawn Pratt was down on her luck and couldn't afford to buy presents that year for her children. But then something happened that would change the direction of her life.

"When my oldest was eleven years old, I had another family that went ahead and bought Christmas gifts to put under the Christmas tree when I was at time when I couldn't afford to make a good Christmas," Pratt said.

Pratt says she never forgot that kindness, but it wasn't until the death of her father, Herb Jones, a Vietnam War veteran, that she decided to pay that favor forward.

"I just wanted to do something to honor him, so on Veteran's day in 2019, I just decided I would want to do something like this for Christmas present assistance and do it in his honor," Pratt said.

Thus Herb's Heroes was born, an organization that collects toys and essentials for kids and teens, wrapping them up and donating them to the families who struggled like Pratt once did. For the program's fourth year, Pratt said she worked with local schools to find the families that need the assistance the most.

"They give me all the names and information, and then each child receives a large bag of gifts, and then the family receives a laundry basket of household essentials with detergent and dryer sheets, and then they get a holiday meal," Pratt explained.

During the program's first year, Pratt was able to donate to 23 families, with most of the toys paid for out of her own pocket. Now, they run fundraisers year-round to afford enough gifts for 230 local families. It's an all-day event wrapping the gifts, but it's become a family tradition to lend a hand.
Pratt's Uncle, Sonny Lewis, said he only wishes Herb could be here today to see the work being done in his name.

"I think he'd be very proud of everybody, just like I am. I'm very proud of my niece for doing this," Lewis said. "I'm really happy for her and everybody that's helping out, and I think Herb would be the exact same way."

If you want to give Herb's Heroes a hand this holiday season, they are accepting toys, gift cards, clothes, and essentials for kids and teens. 

Reach out to Pratt at Herbsheroes.org or email her directly at HerbsHeroes01@gmail.com.


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