EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (CBS) — For families who are grieving or who might have trouble putting food on the table, it might be tough getting presents under the tree for Christmas.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, one woman in East Chicago, Indiana is trying to save Christmas for families who need it.

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“You’re seeing Christmas magic,” said Tamye Longoria, president of the nonprofit Paying It Forward.

Longoria doesn’t offer mere toy shopping – she’s looking to make miracles.

“I’m actually on dialysis, so after I got out of dialysis, I picked (the kids) up and brought them over here,” said Adolph Lomeli.

“I’m a mom of four. We just moved from Kentucky,” said Sarah Morris, mother of 2-year-old Iylah. “It’s hard trying to manage life and do things for them.”

Giving gifts is not new for the nonprofit. But their space is brand new – having made its debut in June – and the more room means more to offer.

“If they want to take a picture with Santa, it’s free,” Longoria said. “If they want to pick out a toy, it’s free.”

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They are offering time with Santa, and 500 gifts to families in East Chicago – and beyond; to those who need a little extra cheer.

“The holidays aren’t good for me. I lost a son,” said Maricela Barocio, grandmother of 3-year-old Lydia. “You see all the families struggling, and then you see how the kids are happy to get a toy. Whether it’s used or new, it puts a smile on their face.”

After the holidays, the space will turn back into a donated supplies store where people can pick up clothes and goods – because for Longoria, the season of giving is year-round.

“I still believe in Santa Claus, because Santa isn’t a person,” Longoria said. “Santa’s the spirit of Christmas that you bring to families in need.”

Longoria started the non-profit 9 years ago. They have done an “angel tree” toy giveaway from the beginning, but this is their first year doing “shop with Santa.”

You can visit the store until Dec. 21 at 819 W. Chicago Ave. in East Chicago, Indiana.

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Teachers and social workers can call to schedule bringing in children for private shopping
For more information, call (219) 318-3122 or visit www.payingitforwardnwi.com, where you can also donate.