The scene was reminiscent of the day after Thanksgiving as people lined up outside the door of Ladd Grade School at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
However, these "shoppers" were not looking for black Friday deals, but were waiting to take part in Project Success's Santa's Workshop Toy Store. Parents and guardians of children in need whose names were collected by Hall Township Food Pantry got the chance to pick up a few toys, coats and enter a drawling to win some bicycles for Christmas.
"It's the result of weeks and weeks of collections," said Jan Martin,executive director of Project Success of Eastern Bureau County and operator of the pantry.
Martin said churches, civic groups, hospitals, businesses and schools throughout the area of Hall and Selby Townships all gave donations. The event serviced more than 200 families — about 450 children.
"I think everybody is happy and like getting stuff for their kids," said Eric Miller, head "elf."
"Elves" or volunteers greeted the parents and guardians while "Reindeers" or personal shoppers took the participants around to help them pick out gifts and carry their items.
"It's a great community activity," said Ladd superintendent Michelle Zeko.
She and her staff helped set up the event on Friday and she said she was happy the volunteers braved the snowy weather to make it to the event.
"It is a very good thing and it is very helpful," said parent Jojo Lamboley of Ladd.
Lamboley said she needed a little help for Christmas this year because financially times are still rough. She was shopping for her three-year-old daughter and was hoping to find a doll, stocking stuffers and maybe a bike to give her for Christmas.
"Everyone should have a merry Christmas," said Zeko.
She said she comes from a family with high "Christmas spirit." Her sister even drove more than an hour in the snow to help with the event.
"Christmas is all about children and I want every child to have a nice Christmas," she added.
Alicia LeGrand-Riniker can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or firstname.lastname@example.org .