A long line streamed out the door of the DiSalle Center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.
For thousands of central Ohioans, this was the line for Christmas. Many of them have struggled in the recession, but they'll have a brighter Christmas thanks to strangers who offered A Helping Hand for the Holidays.
Teresa McCoy was in line for the first time, after she moved home from Florida with her 13-year-old son.
"I come back home in August to help Mom and Dad out. Dad's got cancer. He's on oxygen. He's in a wheelchair. It's just been really rough for all of us," she said.
When her number was called, she was paired with a volunteer for a trip through the toy line. Toys were grouped by age and gender, and parents could choose the gift that their child would like best. She pointed to the one she wanted for her son, and the volunteer grabbed it and put it in McCoy’s bag.
As fast as the toys were selected, volunteers like Tyrrea Byrd replaced them. There was a virtual toy warehouse in the back, one volunteers had spent two days unloading and sorting. Byrd has worked this event for past twenty years. She's never forgotten how the Salvation Army once helped her mother, and wanted to pay it forward.
"It means a lot when we can give back. Because I teach my children that we're only a prayer away from this being us," she said.
From toys to food 1,200 volunteers pitched in to make this work many, like Byrd, coming back year after year. As they filled bags and cartons with everything from eggs and butter, to potatoes and chicken for the holiday meal, the message was the same:
Cheers of "Merry Christmas! “ could be heard throughout the day.
Students from Worthington Christian pushed shopping carts full of food and toys to recipients' cars, and then unloaded the gifts for them. McCoy led them to her vehicle with a smile on her face.
"Last year I was homeless. I was in Florida. I was homeless for Christmas last year so it's going to be a real good Christmas this year. I'm home with the family," she said.
The two-day giveaway is sponsored by The Salvation Army, Walmart, 10TV, and WCOL. This year, A Helping Hand for the Holidays provided toys and food to 6400 families.