Helping put presents under trees this holiday season

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BRADENTON -  There are almost 4,000 children in Manatee County that are being raised by their grandparents, an option to keep them out of being put in foster care and torn  from their siblings.  

But the situation can also put a strain on the family.  Brandy Darr is a single Mom of two in Bradenton that knows exactly how tough it can be.

"It's hard to focus on them, work, and I also go to school," she said.

So in order for Darr to be able to support the family, her kids stay with her grandma which helps out to a certain extent.

"I just feel like I'm not going to be able to give them everything I think they deserve and I want to make sure they have a good Christmas, but I'm stressing I'm not going to be able to," Darr said.

And with grandma also taking care of 4 other grandchildren,  finding the money to fulfill the kid's wish lists remains just a dream.

"When you live on a fixed income you just don't have it left over to try and do Christmas with, it's sad," said Brandy's grandma Nancy.

However there is some hope this holiday through Manatee Children's Services, a local non-profit that has programs to support families like the Darr's including an annual holiday project to help play Santa.

"What we have is a Christmas Wish list that we have the kids fill out, and they put approximately 3 gifts that they wish to have," said Manatee Children's Services employee Danielle Foster.

Individuals and businesses in the community can then sponsor a child, providing something as small as a toy truck that could make all the difference when it's time to open presents.

"When you see those kids faces, and they get things, it's really a joy," Nancy Darr said.