HOUSTON - Thousands of families received the joy of the holiday season during the Houston Fire Department's Operation: Stocking Stuffer.
At New Light Christian Center, it is all hands on deck for busy volunteers stuffing bags with gifts for tens of thousands of children.
"I hope for happiness, joy that they just feel the love for us all day long," Jalisha Abraham, a volunteer said.
It is all to bring smiles for families who need help giving gifts to their children for the Christmas season. Operation: Stocking Stuffer is a toy drive that started with the people in the community.
"My mother, Lorugene Young, started this over 33 years ago. It started out of our home. It started with her putting the toys in the back of her car, and then Mr. Al Bennett with the fire department care along and helped and then on it bloomed into this, and we never knew that the day would come to this--where we would service over 4,000 families," Sharae Young, daughter of founder, said.
In 2018, the toy drive helped more than 6,000 families and over 30,000 children. This year, they hope to help more.
"We could not have done it without the sponsors. We could not have done it without the help of everybody," Young said. "It's about the spirit of giving."
"It's awesome. It's awesome. It's great. I love what they do!" Carrie Desrochers, a mother from SE Houston, said.
Desrochers waited in line to get gifts for the 2,9 and 14 years old children. She was met with smiling and cheering volunteers who were happy to help get her children's wish list fulfilled.
"It makes a lot of difference, because the volunteers help to not only just us but to people who really need it," Desrochers said.
"It means everything... that someone is actually able to come out here and help," Daniel Lennon, another mother, said.
Volunteers said it is not about the giving, but more about the humanity, spirit of kindness, and the smiles that the children will have Christmas day.
"It's actually very exciting because I remember when we were in line as kids and it's time to give back. So I'm excited!" Jalisha Abraham, a volunteer, said.
Volunteers filled bags...and hearts too. They showed a kind of love that these families say impacted them in a special way.
"The people helping-- all of them--that's what makes me smile today," Desrochers said.
"Give people hope. You got to give people the extra push they need to keep going," Rapper, Trae the Truth, said, after giving children in line money to spend.
These families said the help makes all the difference.
“Thank you so much for having the time and giving us the support that we needed,” Kassandra Juarez, a South Houston mother, said.