Raleigh, N.C. — The Salvation Army is calling the recent influx of donations to meet the holiday wishes of more than 2,000 children in need a Christmas miracle.
This time last week, the charity was short on donations for the 8,700 children in the Salvation Army's local Angel Tree program, which was up from last year by 900 children.
"Last week, we looked around and saw that almost 2,000 children had not been adopted from our Angel Tree," said Haven Sink, director of public relations for the local Salvation Army. "We needed clothing for about 2,000 children and tons of toys. We really did believe that a miracle could happen and sure enough, it did."
On Tuesday, the charity opened its doors to all the 4,000 registered Wake County families for the first day of gift pick-up, which continues through Thursday.
Nini Upchurch turned to the charity in October when she realized she needed help providing Christmas gifts for her three children this year.
"(It) makes you feel nervous, but I'm here today. I've been out here since 8:30 this morning," Upchurch said outside the Salvation Army's Christmas warehouse on New Bern Avenue Tuesday. "(I'm getting) baby dolls for my little girl, bikes and basketball, football my little boy."
Sink said a number of the last-minute donations came in online, which allowed her staff to go shopping for necessary items.
"We really didn't know how this would happen, but people really stepped up, in the spirit of giving," she said, adding that the gift pick-up days are almost exciting as Christmas itself.
"We are just looking forward to this day all year, just to see the smiles on parents' faces when they pick out those toys for their kids for Christmas."