"Drive Thru" Christmas

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

Most people imagine Santa as a red nosed, well fed, older man but Kris Kringle can take any shape and this year for one group of people he may have resembled a high school football team.

This year’s "Drive Thru" Christmas at the Open Door Mission was helped by a pack of bulldogs.

It is definitely chaotic but the system at the Open Door Mission works.

Christmas gifts are sorted by gender and age then run out to the vehicles of the pre-registered families.

The Burke High football team is doing most of the running.

Paul Limongi says, "We've been doing this for about five years now and we do a couple of big things each year in the off season and our kids love it. They do a great job, they work hard, they have a smile on their face and they enjoy doing it. They look forward to it every year."

Mitch McCann has been volunteering at the Open Door Mission since he was a freshman. He has worked his way up from running gifts to greeting families. That gives McCann an insight into what his hours at the mission mean to the people it helps.

Mitch McCann says, "They are pretty much ecstatic, half of them are just happy to be here and they just want to talk to us pretty much."

McCann and his teammates make up just a fraction of the volunteers who made this possible.

People gave money or presents to the effort, then hundreds of volunteers sorted and organized the toys. Handing them out is the easy part.

Collecting enough toys to meet the need was something of a Christmas miracle.

Candace Hoyt-Gregory says, "We have 4,200 children that were pre-registered almost 1,800 families being served today. Not only are they receiving a toy bag worth $75 that they can take home and wrap to have gifts under the tree from Santa or themselves."

And make it a memorable Christmas for all the right reasons.

Candace Hoyt-Gregory tells Channel 6 News that the need has been running high all year. The Open Door Mission began planning for a busy Christmas season back in July.

She says the partners' generosity made this Christmas successful.

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