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Ferrari Club of Louisiana beats Santa's sleigh to deliver christmas presents

Instead of Santa's sleigh, there's a caravan of Ferraris and attention to the importance of supporting locally owned businesses.

NEW ORLEANS — This holiday giving story is a little different than others.

There's the spirit of Christmas, with children receiving gifts from people who want to help others.

But instead of Santa's sleigh, there's a caravan of Ferraris and attention to the importance of supporting locally owned businesses.

"Dwayne Landry, age 3, classroom 114," reads the card on the wrapped Christmas present.

Nearly 340 Christmas gifts are wrapped, labeled, and loaded on the trailer, ready to go. The Ferrari Club of Louisiana decided to bring back a tradition.

"This is for children that might not have the opportunity to get gifts this Christmas, for many, many reasons," said Franco Valobra.

Jeweler and Ferrari collector, Franco Valobra, along with other business owners and car collectors, gathered $10,000 from their own pockets. Then they asked the Le Jouet toy store in Metairie, to fulfill the Christmas wish list for all 166 children at Educare New Orleans. The goal is to help the children while at the same time support the hard work of a local retailer.

"We wanted them to benefit, instead of ordering online and having it shipped. It's so impersonal," said Valobra.

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Le Jouet says 40 percent of its business depends on holiday shopping. They got a boost when the international chain Toys R Us closed, but after 51 years, this locally owned store feels the pinch from cyber shopping. So even though it took a month of pulling hundreds of toys and wrapping for hours each day, they are grateful.

"It was a pleasure to be able to go through their list and wrap them up and have them ready. It's all worth it in the end," said Melanie Allen, a customer service representative at Le Jouet.

About a dozen Ferrari Club members caravanned through Lakeview behind the present-load trailer to Educare on St. Bernard Avenue.

And then Christmas began as 332 gifts were handed out.

Now one of the hardest things for young children to do, wait until the 25th to see what's inside.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" exclaimed one of the little boys on the receiving end.

The Ferrari Club plans to continue this Christmas giving tradition for years to come. They invite anyone who has a passion for cars to join the giving and caravan next year.

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