Kansas City preschool community rallies to provide gifts for kids in need

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A forgotten email almost ruined Christmas.

The community around a Kansas City preschool is rallying, as donated gifts pour in to help inner-city kids. Families who use the Emmanuel Child and Family Development Center say this is a Christmas miracle.

Managers at the preschool say they missed a key email, and forgot to apply for donations from Toys for Tots. The center's executive director, Deborah Mann, says she was heartbroken, realizing she'd missed out on the chance to include 200 kids in the program.

"I didn't know what I was going to do. I really didn't," Mann told FOX 4 News on Thursday. "I cried. I cried and I didn't know what to do."

It was six days until Christmas, and Mann reached out to the public for help.

"It's Christmas and people care," Mann said.

Word of the center's needs got around on social media. Good-hearted people from all across the metro came calling, bringing Christmas gifts for Emmanuel Center families in need. Toys, food, coats, diapers and bicycles were delivered on Thursday. Kansas City Fire Department employees delivered an entire engine filled with goods during the afternoon hours.

"This is a faith walk for me. Kansas City has come through. Kansas City has shown the love of -- when there's a need, we can take care of it," Mann said.

People such as Andy Atkins, who hails from south Kansas City, read about the Emmanuel Center's needs on Facebook, and says he felt a tug at his heart to help children in need.

"Growing up, I always had a chance to have presents. It breaks my heart to think kids wouldn't have toys for Christmas. We just wanted to do what we could to help out, Atkins said.

"A child shouldn't have to worry if they're going to get a gift on Christmas. That should be the last thing they have to think about," Mann said.

Mann says the center will distribute toys to qualifying families who have enrolled children beginning on Friday afternoon and continuing through Sunday.