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Community Focus: Christmas in the Neighborhood celebrates 28th year

Hundreds of people celebrate Christmas a little early in the Oklahoma City Metro (KOKH).

It's a gift giving season, and a local group is making sure every child has a gift to open this Christmas. Navidad en el Barrio, or Christmas in the Neighborhood, is a way to donate toys to children who may not have much to open on Christmas Day, but it is also a large scale community event that brings the Oklahoma City Southside together.

The group is celebration 28 years of working with the community, and providing toys to Oklahoma families for free. Radio broadcaster Nancy Galvan has spearheaded Christmas in the Neighborhood every year.

Families celebrated both Christmas and the Mexican culture, and event sponsors say making children smile makes the hard work worth it.

“We love being a part of the community. Our business is down here and we wanted to serve the community around us, and this seemed like a great opportunity for us to get involved,” says Chad Pennington, co-owner of Coast to Coast Motors and event sponsor.

Kids say they look forward to the event all year.

“I am so happy because I am going to have something to play with and I am going to get more presents,” says Nicole Moctezuma, participant.

Christmas in the Neighborhood organizers say they collect gifts for the event for an entire year to make sure they have enough for the hundreds of children they expect each year.

For the last eight years, the Oklahoma City Police Department has also sent representatives to Christmas in the Neighborhood as a part of their community building effort. This year Chief Bill Citty and Major Paco Balderrama attended the event, and announced a new initiative to build trust in the Hispanic community starting in 2018, that will involve sending Spanish speaking officers into predominately Latino areas to have conversations about how the community sees the police, and to talk about any crime concerns going on throughout the community.

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