Smiles and early Christmas cheer were the rule not the exception at the annual El Paso County Salvation Army Christmas Giveaway in Colorado Springs on Thursday morning. Community Relations and Special Events Manager Jeane Turner said just more than 300 families -- which includes more than 1,000 children -- got Christmas gifts, filled-to-the-brim Christmas stockings and a bag with a week's worth of food.
Turner says this year's giveaway was 100 families less than last year adding, "It could be that the economy is improving for some families or more agencies are offering support than in year's past."
The numbers are still being added up for all the donated food, toys, gift certificates and other presents from this year's giveaway but last year's donations added up to more than $120,000.
People lined up at 7:30 a.m. Friday for the an 8 a.m. opening at the Salvation Army location at 505 S. Weber St.. The event lasted until noon.
Among those helped was Jessica Northrop, her twin 9-year-old boys, her 11-year-old daughter and her husband.
"The Salvation Army got him a bamboo pillow he needed," she said of her husband. "He works and can't sleep very well and the pillows were almost $100. I tried to get one and they had one. Everywhere I turn there are happy, helping people who are honorable and generous. It's just wonderful holiday cheer."
Turner said this kind of team effort to help others is what Christmas is all about.
"What's neat about the giveaway is that the community comes together for this," she said.
The Salvation Army has been giving a helping hand to El Paso County families with this Christmas giveaway for 127 years.
Planning for the 2017 event will start again in September.