But the smile on his face had nothing to do with presents. His grin was generated by the sight of kids beaming as they flooded out the back door with gifts to open on Christmas.
“The smiles are the pay,” Roberts said. “To see the families during this time of year, the struggles, the unemployment. We are trying to help the families out – that is what it’s all about.”
About 1,000 gifts were handed out to children of all ages during the fifth annual toy giveaway at the center on East Tregallas Road.
Some families braved the rain, wind and brisk temperatures to get a place in line three hours before the doors to the wonderland of toys and happiness opened at noon. Once inside, they found the wait worth every minute. A line of volunteers briskly identified the age of children, sending each off with multiple wrapped gifts donated by Toys for Tots.
For parents like Benika Pree, who brought her three children, the event served as a break from life in rough economic times. “I did no Christmas shopping, so this is the first gift they’re going to receive this year,” Pree said. “All we’re doing right now is paying bills.”
Volunteer Wellington Brown had a unique view of the scene as he opened the door for people exiting the building.
“My favorite part is when the kids stop and tell Santa what they want,” Brown said. “On the way out the door, they’re saying, ‘Look what I got!’ and ‘I got this!’ It’s a good thing.”
As Marina Samano’s two young boys exited the center, her youngest, carrying a mountain of gifts that blocked his line of sight, stumbled. As she watched the comical scene, she stopped to reflect on how blessed she felt to have gifts for her boys to open on Christmas.
“I’m not employed right now,” She said. ”This helps a lot.”
When the doors opened at noon, the line wrapped around the back of the building. Two hours later, the line had dwindled but Roberts said the center would continue to hand out gifts until the walls were bare.
In the parking lot, an array of young children shook their gifts, holding back the temptation to peel back the wrapping paper.
Juan Fernandez, a father of four, gathered his family as they continued their day happier than they were only hours earlier.
“It’s a blessing to have someone help out,” Fernandez said. “It comes in handy when you aren’t working. Something like this makes the kids happy.”
In addition to giving away about a 1,000 toys at the annual toy drive, the nondenominational Visions Christian Center also distributes food every Thursday throughout the year. For more information, call 925-777-0290.