Project Give: Making sure children wake up to gifts on Christmas day

Project Give: Tree of Light Sunday December 17, 2017. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

MARINETTE (WLUK) -- Nearly 390 trash bags were filled, tied, and ready to go. But they weren't headed toward the garbage, actually it was just the opposite.

Inside the bags were gifts. Residents like Cindy Smith of Stephenson took some for her nieces

"It's just such hard times, insane and just any little bit helps them out, to see their smiles now that they know," Smith said.

Community members shopped for gifts listed on the wish lists of area children signed up through the non-profit 'Project Give.'

The programs founder, Shelby Beck, told FOX 11, "Our first year we helped 88 children and it's up to our 4th year and we're up to 389 so you can see how word caught on."

Beck said when parents register online, there's no qualifications or background check.

Each bag contained multiple gifts, all for one child. Beck said there were no limit on how many children received gifts.

"We help Marinette and Menominee County; to be honest if some other counties contact us for help, we never turn them away," said Beck.

About 15 volunteers, including Michelle Wagner, helped out with the event.

When FOX 11 asked Wagner what was the most challenging part about the volunteer work, she jokingly said, "Not losing my name tag; I keep misplacing them and just making the bags fit, the bags are very hard to open."

But there was no doubt the rewards outweighed the challenges.

Beck told FOX 11, "The most rewarding thing for me at this point is seeing the families use our project as a Christmas tradition. It's amazing."

"It's huge," Smith said, "So much giving back and just to see everybody coming out of nowhere basically to help everybody. Just to see their smiles like I said is huge."

Families said they couldn't imagine kids waking up Christmas day and not seeing any presents.

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