Families Pack Ohio Expo Center For ‘Helping Hand’ Gift Distribution

UPDATED: Wednesday December 18, 2013 5:46 PM

Crowds filled the Ohio Expo Center on Wednesday as the first of 8,000 families picked up gifts and food for Christmas.

It's the result of 10TV's annual donation drive - along with Walmart, WCOL Radio, and the Salvation Army.

After Andrea Walters and Jason Farley arrived at the Ohio Expo Center, they were paired with a volunteer. The couple has five children between the ages of seven and twelve. They scanned a long table filled with toys.  The toys were grouped by age and gender. They began by choosing a gift for their daughters.

"I like this Little Mermaid thing. This is pretty cool.”

Over the years, the Salvation Army has learned that parents prefer to choose gifts themselves for their children, rather than be handed a random item.

Andrea and Jason were pleased with the variety and quality of toys, and that there will be gifts for their children on the big day.

"For Christmas with the kids, they're going to love it, everything. I come every year,” said mother Andrea.

Amy Belle comes every year, too, as a volunteer.  She began at age 12. After 16 years, she still loves the expressions on parents' faces as they shop for their kids.

"They don't have much, and they just are looking for that one special toy for their child. It just brings so much joy to see them light up when they come through,” said Belle.

Amy is one of 1,200 volunteers from churches, schools, and corporations who show up to lend A Helping Hand for the Holidays.

Many of them loaded boxes with food for Christmas dinners. There were apples, eggs, chicken, butter, mac and cheese, cupcakes, and potatoes.

"I love to be able to give people something that's just going to make their holiday a little bit easier,” added Belle.

Thursday is the final distribution day for families who have pre-registered.

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