OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) - With tough economic times, it's no secret that many families are struggling.
That's why a business in Oxford has teamed up with other organizations in Lafayette County to make sure children don't go without this Christmas.
For the 37th year in a row, people are volunteering as Secret Santas by going on a shopping spree to make sure children will have something placed under the tree this holiday season.
"It's definitely a selfless thing," volunteer Roya Gordji said. "I would love to be able to see the look on these children's faces, but it's good to know that children have something to hope for, especially at this time of year."
Shopping for 800 kids between the ages of 2 and 14 is not something a group of volunteers do in one day; there are several groups and several shopping adventures.
"Oh yes, [it takes] several weeks of shopping [during] October and November," volunteer Larry Brookhart said.
Once all 1,600 gifts are purchased, they will go through an inspection process by volunteers to make sure each gift is age appropiate for the child. On Dec. 15, when parents arrive to pick up the gifts for their children, there will also be some fruit and books placed inside the gift bags.
"This is one of the greatest areas of need each holiday season, to make sure that the kids who are unlikely to get Christmas gifts receive something," adds Brookhart. "It's an opportunity for the community to give back."
Those who volunteer say it's well worth the time spent knowing children who are less fortunate won't go without a gift this holiday season.
"Everybody makes a big effort to select the gift that each of the children desire to have," adds Brookhart. "That's what makes it fun to have that good feeling, that these children are going to get good gifts that they're looking forward to."
Just like the kids, these Secret Santas are counting down the days to Dec. 25.
The parents of the children must submit an application -- which is screened -- and then parents receive invitation letters to participate in the organization's distribution day.