WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Christmas came early for hundreds of kids who didn’t think Santa was stopping by their homes this year.
“It makes me very, very happy," said nine-year-old Jayda Davis.
Strangers delivered holiday cheer to Davis and a gymnasium packed with children -- at no cost to their parents. Everyone who showed up at the Fort Stanton Recreation Center on Monday received gifts.
"They probably don't realize how many families and hearts they touched," said Sandi Toatley. The mother of five is so grateful for the generosity.
“We just became homeless,” she admitted before continuing, “Stuff like this gives us hope and [we] know that people out here still care."
She’s referring to people like former D.C. mayor-turned-councilman Marion Barry. His annual toy giveaway was made possible this year thanks to the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots.
“Honestly, it makes you feel good,” said Councilman Barry. “On the other hand, it makes you feel sad to some extent to know that as rich as this city is, as rich as America is, you got kids who don't have any Santa Claus at all."
48-percent of Ward 8 children live below the federal poverty line.
“I truly appreciate this and I appreciate being here in this moment," said Charmaine Ferrell-Anthony. She came out so her grandchildren who just lost their mother have something to smile about this season:
“Without y’all help, we wouldn't have gotten anything."
She and many others on the receiving end hope to be giving next year. Volunteer Alexis Jones is paying it forward now after having grown up on less.
“As a kid, I was a part of welfare, public assistance, waking up trying to find something to eat so I understand and it hits my heart," he said.