GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They came in with hopes and dreams and came out with baskets full of toys. The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program is what Christmas is all about.
Major Alan Hill said the people who receive the gifts are very excited,
"They can't believe this is for them," Hill said. "Their children will get to enjoy what's coming out of here. It's incredible."
Thousands of presents are being given out thanks to this very special holiday tradition. Donors picked an angel from the tree and now bikes, games and dolls will brighten the lives of families around south Mississippi.
"We're helping more than 4,000 families, a total of 9,400 kids and seniors. That's quite a few people across the Gulf Coast."
Airmen and women from Keesler volunteered to help the Salvation Army deliver gifts to families.
One mother called the program a lifesaver. As she looked at her cart filled with gifts, she thought about what it would be like without the charitable assistance.
"It would be real hard to have a merry Christmas," she said.
The Salvation Army uses a strict application process to find families who demonstrate a genuine reason for assistance.
"Once they prove that need, we put that child on the angel tree list. Then Christmas is for them right in here," Hill said.
The toy distribution continues Friday at the old Kroger store on Pass Road in Gulfport. Toys will be given out beginning at 9am.