Local organizations and families collected Christmas gifts on Wednesday from the Giving Turtle, a Nogales-based organization that helps children and senior citizens in the community.

The Giving Turtle, founded by Dora Taddey, began providing Christmas presents in 2005 by providing gifts to six children. These days, the program works with more than a dozen different service agencies and schools in Santa Cruz County, which provide information about children they work with who are in difficult circumstances.

That information includes the items the kids would like to receive for Christmas. Taddey and her Giving Turtle associates, who include Loli Andrade and Ruby Rojas, collaborate with private citizens and organizations to provide the toys, clothes, gift cards or monetary donations to make it happen.

Taddey said donations were down this year, but the organization still managed to collect more than 500 gifts for 163 families.

When it came time to distribute gifts on Wednesday, Taddey, Andrade and Rojas received helping hands from Border Patrol Agents Carlos Verdugo and Sejis Cabrera.

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