Julie Tam, NBC 5 News
Santa was on hand as thousands of children and adults got clothes, shoes, food, toys and more.
Christmas came early Saturday for about 30,000 North Texans, as low-income families took their children to Christmas in the Park at Fair Park in Dallas.
The economic downturn and high unemployment made the need for free gifts and groceries that much greater this year.
"It was exciting. I've never seen this many gifts in one spot," said Monisha Williams. "It truly do touch my heart. And I'm grateful and blessed that I was even able to get into this program."
Williams, who was first in line with her husband and their two sons, waited for more than 17 hours for the doors to open at 8:30 a.m. The boys got shiny, new bicycles from among the thousand donated. Like so many others, their mother is looking for work.
Other kids received new books to read and toys to play with. While it means a lot to them, it may mean even more to their parents.
"It just hurts your heart so bad when you don't have the money to buy something for your children yourself," said Christina Franklin, of Euless. "I'm happy, I'm grateful, I'm blessed. I just thank God that there's something like this to help us."
since 1998, when it helped fewer than 200 people.
"And I'm just so thankful that we're here and to let them know that we're here and to hold them up and to give them and share and to touch so many lives," said foundation founder S.M. Wright.
Families also got basic necessities, including shoes from Toms Shoes. And many will go home with a warm bed, new clothes, and bags of groceries.
To receive assistance, each family must provide proof of income and residence and must meet the current Texas Commodity Assistance Program (TEXCAP) income requirements.