It was Black Friday at the Bakersfield Homeless Center. The one day of the holiday season when its store room turns into Toys”R”Us.
Close to 800 families were lined up around the homeless center on East 19th Street in the cold for two hours since 6 a.m. Saturday.
The children were hoping to get all they wanted for Christmas, so they paced the aisles looking for that perfect gift.
Their eyes lit up when they spotted the vast toy selection.
"It’s like pure cars, toys, Legos, there's board games, remote control cars, basketballs, soccer balls, and all kinds of toys,” says 11-year-old Emanuel Salas.
Diana Salinas says she got a book, a teddy bear and a pillow.
"I like the toys here,” Salinas said. “Sometimes, it’s tough for my family to get me what want, but I’m glad I still I get something here.”
Tiffany Shaw is elated her daughter 10-year-old daughter Kamaya got the very gift she wanted.
"She told me, mom, I know you don't have a lot of money, but I really need a boy doll, and I was like oh God Kamaya, I don't know how I’m going to get that,” Shaw said. “So she was praying in line and said I don't want anything but boy dolls for my girl dolls, and you see, she got exactly what she wanted.”
Shaw’s daughter walked away with two Ken dolls and a stuffed animal. She says she was not going to be able to afford any toys this year, and if it wasn’t for the toy drive, her kids were going to go gift-less.
“They can count on me to provide them with toys through this drive,” she says.
For 17 days, generous people dropped off toys at the KGET studios to donate to the homeless center. The overwhelming generosity is giving hundreds of kids a Christmas they always wanted.
"I got this gift, and thanks to God that he let us all get toys and for the people who donated toys," Salas said.
The homeless center started distributing toys Friday night to families living in its shelter. Overall, staff says it gave away more than 1,200 toys and the remaining items will go to the homeless center kids’ birthday parties.