NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For 10 years, volunteers have been gathering on the corner of Monroe and 11th Avenue for the weekend before Christmas to help out families in need. The mission may be more important this year than ever before.
Around the holidays, for some families, it doesn't just feel cold because of the weather.
"This time of year is hard for us," said Monalisa Thomas.
But thankfully for Thomas and her kids, they have found some warm and generous hearts.
"For Mount Carmel to do their thing and help us, it’s a blessing," she said.
Her son, LaDarius, is one of 500 kids receiving a big bag of toys.
"I’m happy because it is hard for us, and we barely can afford stuff," the little boy said.
"We’re all just one step away from being homeless, being in need ourselves," said Bishop Marcus Campbell of Church at Mount Carmel.
Campbell has been bundling up for 10 years to put on the annual Christmas on Monroe event.
"It’s a real good, quick process where you don’t have to wait and be standing out here in this cold air," said Campbell.
He said initially they were concerned if they'd be able to meet the moment.
"We’ve seen a very [big] spike of people needing more stuff this year than last year," said Bishop Campbell.
But their donations multiplied like a parable from the Gospel.
"We noticed we had more toys than what we expected, so we’re still taking people that’s in need. They’re just walking up, and we’re bagging everything up for them and let them take it on with them," he said.
The boxes of food and bags of toys are the draw, but the real gift might be the message they're sending to every car.
"It’s not about the present, but it’s about your presence. And our presence is here to let people know we love them and we’re here for them through these hard times of this holiday," said Campbell.
Because the world doesn't feel quite so cold when families know they're loved.
"Just to see the smile on they faces, when they wake up for Christmas — just to have something under the tree. It’s totally a blessing," said Thomas.