Gifts for Kids Make a Joyful Christmas for 350 Dallas Families

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DALLAS -- Inside, the presents were countless, marked for boys or girls and waiting to change both Christmas and lives.

"We did toy drives all over the city and basically scraped and scrounged and got what we could get to get a bunch of toys," said Dallas Elf Society founder Jonathan Hall.

Outside, the line continued to grow. 350 families waited with vouchers and a dream of a Christmas that's both merry and bright for the little ones in their lives.

"You can see the excitement and the gratefulness when you look at them," said local mother Angela Johnson.

The Dallas Elf Society and Youth World Learning Center teamed up with sponsors from all around to create those looks of excitement. The idea started as a small one at Youth World back in 1998.

"When we first started, we were just so grateful when we did 12 kids, then 100 kids," said Youth World Executive Director Darla Shirley.

Saturday, the second time the two groups had done the event together, it was hundreds of kids that burst through Youth World's doors. Everyone got a free lunch. Then the parents picked out toys on one side, hiding them in black bags, while their kids got two toys each in another area with the assistance of their very own helper.

"They pick up the toys that they really want," Johnson said. "It's not just something that's given. They actually get to choose. A lot of times, kids don't have a choice, and this has given them an opportunity to choose."

Johnson is raising six kids, four of them foster children, and she knows how much a day like this has changed their year.

"Some of us didn't know where Christmas presents were going to come from this year," she said.

It wasn't just the presents either. Each family got a feast to take home and cook too, complete with a full-size turkey.

Volunteers, many of them young people, helped families from the front door all the way to praying after loading the car. For people like Johnson, the generosity shown this special day will go home with her.

"There are still people I know who don't have, and I can bring them over, we can all share and have a great holiday season," Johnson finished.