OROVILLE -- At a church in Southside Oroville, dozens of volunteers spent the week wrapping, sorting, matching and stacking hundreds of presents for the annual Gift of Hope program.
Nearly every inch of The Father's House church was packed with colorful Christmas-themed wrappers and bags, ready for families to pick up tonight.
The gifts will be handed out to registered children from 6-9 p.m. at the church, located at 2833 Fort Wayne St.
Luke Pollock and Ryan Kelly both attend the church and were helping out Thursday afternoon.
This year, the church set a goal of registering 1,000 children to give to, he said. In the past, the program has provided gifts for more than 600 youngsters.
However, with a lot of promotional efforts, people from outside Oroville asked to be included, which brought the total to 1,100.
"We didn't want to turn them away," Pollock said.
A few weeks ago, organizers voiced concern because many of the tags on Gift of Hope trees hadn't been taken, and the deadline approached.
Since then, the community stepped up and met the need, either by picking up tags or sending donations, said Nicole Wallace, Gift of Hope director.
"It has just been an outpouring of love from the community," she said. "It's absolutely incredible."
She and a team of seven volunteers did final shopping Thursday for 80 children with a goal of buying at least four items for each child.
While that team shopped, more volunteers worked across the street from the church wrapping extra gifts for children who only received one or two presents.
Pollock said the number of gifts given to the children depends on the donor. Each child is assigned a tag with his or her name, age, size and a list of the items they want.
Some donors buy one item, and others buy everything listed, he said.
All week, about 30 volunteers helped set up the packages and new bicycles inside the church. Others spent from morning to around 11 p.m. wrapping more than 300 gifts. The rest of the presents arrived already wrapped by the donors.
Church volunteer Ryan Kelly helped straighten up some of the rows of presents on Thursday and made sure tags were in place and gifts were properly placed.
"I love it," he said. "It's one of my favorite outreaches."
But while he likes seeing the children's smiles, he observed that all the work is over quickly.
"Three or four months of work and it's over in three hours. But that's Christmas," Kelly said.
Across the street, Aimee Rivera and Marisa Woodard were covering dolls and other toys with bright paper. Rivera had been there until late Wednesday and was back at it again.
"It's awesome, all the kids that are going to be blessed tomorrow," she said Thursday. "It's amazing."
Woodard was excited that four children in one family who each wanted a new bike will get one. Rivera remarked about how exciting it is when children arrive with their parents or guardians and see all the gifts they're getting.
"It's amazing to be part of it," Rivera said. "Their whole face lights up. Once you see that, you want to keep doing it."