The pastor who lives with the homeless on the streets of Buffalo for a week just before Thanksgiving each year, is continuing to give back to the community. As YNN's Kate McGowan explains, Pastor Eric Johns is leading the effort to spread some holiday cheer to those in need.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Not dozens, not hundreds but thousands of boxes. Each filled to the brim.
"A lot of the families that we help, they're certainly not homeless," said Pastor Eric Johns. "They have a place to live but they're just struggling."
Members of the Buffalo Dream Center and volunteers across the nation gathered at a large warehouse Friday, where they have been packing 'Boxes of Love' for several days.
Each box is filled with presents for Christmas, and other goodies to smile about.
"There's a lot of activity here at the warehouse. Volunteers coming from all over to help with the project," said a volunteer.
And it's not just about the presents at the Buffalo Dream Center. Each family helped will also get a bag of food with essentials to help them this holiday season.
"We don't want people to just be another number, another person coming in the line for a bag of food. We want people to know that they're loved and cared about," said Pastor Johns.
Boxes of Love began as a small effort 14 years ago, with Pastor Johns helping a handful of families at his church for Christmas. But it has developed into a coalition of many working to spread generosity during the holidays.
"My wife and I delivered boxes of gifts and food to five families and we realized then, we could reach so many more families if we took this Christmas program outside of our church building."
The program now helps more than 3,000 families. The boxes will be distributed up through December 22nd, in areas like Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Amherst.
Pastor Johns says its an experience that warms the heart.
"Every year, I have moms that come to me and hug me and cry and tell me, "This is it, this is all my kid will get for Christmas. Thank you so much,'" Johns said.
If you would like to donate, you still can. Toys and food will be accepted through December 22nd.
Click here for more information.