SAN DIEGO - More than 12,000 people turned out for the Rock Church's Toys for Joy event in Lincoln Park on Saturday. Organizers say this was their largest turnout so far.
For Cherrelle Spring, picking out Christmas gifts for her kids this year means so much more.
She says she was not able to provide for them and could barely pay for rent. Those were emotions even she could not hide from her oldest daughter, who is 5 years old.
Spring said that not being able to buy presents takes her back to when she was younger, when she forced herself not to expect anything for the holidays.
"I went through the same thing," she said. "My mom didn't have nothing."
That is a similar story for many families who braved chilly temperatures while waiting in line, looking to get a little help this holiday season from the Rock Church during their annual Toys for Joy event.
They provided food, clothes and toys for those who need it, no questions asked.
It is something Michael McCowan knows all too well. It was not that long ago when he was standing in their shoes, waiting for Christmas presents.
"You don't know how to cry but when you see mom crying, you're saying, 'Yes, this is mine, this is Christmas,'" he said.
Now as a volunteer, he is helping kids like Spring's choose their presents.
They may have started off with different stories, but both walked away with the same hope that filled their hearts.
To keep up with the needs of the community, the church is organizing three of the Toys for Joy events all over the county.