Last minute donations help the Poverello House

FRESNO, Calif.

Smiles and holiday cheer where contagious Christmas morning at the Poverello House in Downtown Fresno.

"There is really nothing like seeing everyone's face on Christmas and handing them gifts," volunteer Tyler Donaghy said.

Last week organizers feared, for the first time in 25 years, they would not have enough toys, but the surrounding community pulled through.

"Our community is a gift to this organization and they always come through. When we tell them what our needs are they are there to provide," Poverello House Director of Development Kathryn Weakland said.

Volunteers worked through Christmas morning and made sure every child got a toy. Seven-year-old Savannah was the youngest volunteer there. She wanted to make sure to spread the real meaning of Christmas.

"It's helpful and it's thankful. It's not that you are only getting presents for yourself but you're giving to others," volunteer Savannah Perez said.

Once the toys were handed out volunteers continued their work in the kitchen and prepared Christmas lunch.

Tito Olazabal runs the Poverello House kitchen. He said the Poverello House was prepared to serve 500 guests.

"We try to do something a little more special than an everyday meal, so they know the difference or they feel the difference between an everyday meal and a holiday," Olazabal said.

The Christmas meal takes weeks to prepare and is dependent on donations and numerous volunteers. Olazabal said the satisfaction he sees on guest's faces is well worth the hard work.

"Sometimes they approach you, they say thank you, and it means a lot, more than any other thank you that i have ever hear in my life," Olazabal said.

Toy drive organizers say the community's last minute donations between Friday and Christmas Eve accounted for 45 crates of toys that were given away Christmas morning.

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