Local News

Durham agency flooded with gifts to meet last-minute need

Posted December 22, 2010 4:19 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2010 6:50 p.m. EST

— Area residents deluged the Durham County Department of Social Services with gifts Wednesday after hearing that the agency wouldn't be able to provide gifts for hundreds of families.

A local church had committed to providing toys and gifts for about 300 Durham families that had signed up with DSS for the "Share Your Christmas" program, but the church backed out of the deal Tuesday.

"I was really depressed," said Carol Hunt, a community initiative supervisor for DSS.

After WRAL News reported on the situation late Tuesday, Hunt said phone messages started piling up for her.

"We've had so many people calling, saying, 'What do you need? What can i do?' We've had people stopping by and bringing gifts," she said.

Although the agency won't have a final total until after Christmas, officials said they received more than $10,000 in monetary and gift card donations. They are tracking everything that comes in and who gets it.

Resident Kerrie Frederick said she couldn't stand for children to go without gifts.

"It pretty much broke my heart," Frederick said as she dropped off a donation on Wednesday.

The Durham Police Department raised hundreds of dollars and also got donations from several stores.

"Certainly, it's very fulfilling, very satisfying, very heartwarming," police Capt. Anthony Marsh said.

Hunt said the late flood of toys, gift cards and other presents mean DSS will be able to help about 1,600 families this Christmas.

Christina Harris, who feared her four children would have a Christmas without presents, said she was so touched by people's generosity to the DSS program that she plans to repay the favor and help someone else in need in the future.

"I was really speechless because I didn't know that (my children) were going to be able to get those things," Harris said, noting that each of her children will get a bicycle for Christmas. "I was just speechless and thankful and grateful."