After months of gathering and sorting, hundreds of volunteers came out for the launch of Operation Blue Santa on Saturday morning. O.B.S. helps ensure that more than 5,000 Austin families will be able to enjoy Christmas this year. Cars stretched for blocks to help deliver gifts to families in need.
"These are kids that might not have a holiday otherwise, might not have Christmas this year if it weren't for the generosity of this community and the volunteers that have come out here," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said.
Kristen Gonzales has been volunteering with her family for over a decade and have made delivery day their own special holiday.
"We use to (volunteer) when I was in the military and it just kind of stuck," Gonzales said.
Janie Flores said she and her family have been delivering with Kristen for years and
"It teaches our children a way to give back our community. We've all been really blessed and it's time to share that with others."
In a convoy of three cars, packed to the brink with boxes of gifts, Kristen and crew dropped off gifts to families in need. Along the way, allowing each young member of the family the opportunity to knock on a door and see the smiling face on the other side.
"It's been fun. It's been a great experience for me. I like to see kids being happy because they are getting gifts. And I like to see the parents happy because they are making their kids happy," Elijah Cedillo, a young child, said.
"It feels pretty nice to notice that I'm helping people out who need it. It feels great," Brandon Anderson, a first time Blue Santa volunteer, said.
But more important than the gifts that were given, were the lessons that were learned.
"We love Austin. I've grown up here my whole life, we are all from Austin, so I think it's good that we give back to this community that has given so much to us," Marissa Hernandez, a long-time volunteer, said.
"It's been a really good experience not only for us but the adults too because it teaches us, when we get older, to show our kids how to do this. And it's a really good feeling to know we helped someone and their family," Anjelica Salazar, a young volunteer, said.