CHICAGO (CBS) – On this Christmas, generosity brightened what could have been a sad holiday for hundreds of needy Chicagoans.
It also lifted the spirits of a South Side minister who had done so much for people on Christmas Eve, but still felt he had fallen short.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, on this Christmas, Rev. Paul Hall was hard on himself.
“I said, you know what, to see 2000 people standing in this weather, … I have nothing else left to give. It hurts,” Hall said, choking back tears.
On Friday, at Hall’s annual holiday food and toy drive, the turnout of people seeking help was enormous; the biggest in years.
Hall had to turn away hundreds of people because he and his staff of volunteers ran out of groceries after giving out food and toys to about 1,500 people.
He said he came back on Saturday because “I told those that needed some food, if they need food, we’ll be here.”
Generous donors like Andy Jeninga responded.
“We just were watching TV last night and we saw it on the news and my wife just said ‘Let’s get up early and go get some food and toys and things and bring them down.’”
Volunteer Samantha Belk brought her two children, Britney and Anthony, 13 and 10 years old.
Samantha Belk said she hoped to show her kids “that it’s not all about receiving on Christmas. It’s also about giving. In the future when they have children, they’ll teach them the same thing.”
Another volunteer, Connie Hughes, simply handed out money.
“God’s been good to me. He’s been truly good to me and I want to pass it on,” Hughes said.
The response to that generosity was gratitude.
Jackie Hillery has no job and little money, but she knew to go to Hall’s community center on Christmas morning.
“I said to myself, I know there’s a miracle somewhere. I thought about him. and I told my husband, ‘Let’s ride down Ashland and see,” Hillery said. “There they were.”
It was a Merry Christmas at 90th and Ashland.
“I just want us to think as God blesses us this Christmas, all we think about those we can help and share our blessings. Christmas is sharing,” Hall said.
Thanks to the help of volunteers, Hall and his volunteers were able to help another 250 families on Saturday.