A local charity brought holiday cheer Saturday to families in need. NY1's Erin Clarke has the story from Midtown.
It wasn't a man in a big red suit Saturday who brought smiles to the faces of New Yorkers living in shelters; instead, it was dozens of volunteers from the group City Santa.
"We gather up all the generosity and goodness of people, we put it in pretty boxes, and we deliver it to people who need kindness at Christmas," said Theresa Drescher, the founder of the group.
City Santa set up their own Midtown workshop, a well-oiled machine of pre-cut wrapping paper and boxes, to make sure every gift is wrapped immaculately and topped off with a bow and candy cane before it goes off to families living in city domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters.
"I want you to know that you matter, too," Drescher said. "Just because you live in a shelter, doesn't mean you don't deserve what everybody else has."
City Santa has been making the holidays brighter for families in need for 15 years.
It began with Drescher picking up a few letters to Santa at the main post office in Midtown.
"We saw letters to Santa that were so moving and emotional," Drescher said.
But when the post office stopped giving out delivery addresses for security reasons and the gift donations became too costly to mail, Drescher started City Santa.
And surprisingly, it also had a profound impact on the volunteers, many who have been doing this for years.
"It makes you realize, I have to say just how grateful I am to be in my own life, every day with what I have," volunteer Susan Barrett said.
"Delivery day is really special; getting to meet these families that really appreciate what we do, and there really is nothing similar to that feeling of packing all the gifts, wrapping it, and then delivering it," volunteer Dimitri Theofanis said. "Showing up to these families with bags full of gifts — it's just awesome."
Every October, the race is on to find a space that will allow City Santa to set up "weekly wrapping" parties for free, because every penny matters.
Then, the group of merry makers work up until delivery time, clean up, and prepare to do it all again the following year.
For more info about the organization, visit www.citysanta.org