CHICAGO (CBS) — Christmas came early for some Chicago kids on Saturday.
Hundreds of children arrived at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center for “Christmas in the Wards” – which has been a local staple for the past 23 years. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was in attendance, and several Chicago aldermen gave out toys.
Tables were stacked with games, toys, dolls, and even laptops. Volunteers wrapped hundreds of boxes to give away.
But there wasn’t nearly enough wrapping paper for the mountain of toys and dozens of bikes that went home with those lucky boys and girls.
Meanwhile, as CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen reported Saturday morning, people have been stepping up to save Christmas for thousands of kids from the city to the suburbs.
Christmas almost didn’t happen for some kids on the city’s South Side. Another Chance Church, 9550 S. Harvard Ave., was short on toy donations.
The pastor, the Rev. Kenyatta Smith, was worried the church would not have enough toys to give away to every child. The church had only collected 900 toys when CBS 2’s Tara Molina visited back on Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Smith knew the need was much greater.
But days after CBS 2 informed Chicago of the shortage, big name companies and everyday people stepped up. When CBS 2’s Jermont Terry visited on Friday, there were 12,500 gifts.
The line to get into the giveaway wrapped around the church building Friday night. Every child under 13 walked away with at least one gift.
Marco Britton was one of them.
“I’m like, is it going to be a long wait or something. But it’s still worth the wait,” Marco said. “They definitely do love me.”
The Christmas in the Wards event was founded by Larry Huggins, chief executive officer of Riteway-Huggins Construction. It began as Christmas in Englewood.