By George Solis

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s an area of Baltimore that’s no stranger to headlines, where flashing police lights and crime tape decorate the scenery.

But Thursday night, all of that was replaced by eager children’s faces and a toy pile large enough to even rival Santa’s workshop.

Organizers say 4,000 toys were donated to the Penn North Kids Safe Zone by the community, bringing a little holiday spirit where there might otherwise be none.

Ericka Alston Buck is the brains behind the operation.

“It’s one day where families and children can forget about the environment that they’re living in and get the Christmas that every child deserves,” Buck said.

What started as a Facebook post simply asking for donations to help give the 100 children enrolled in her program a joyful Christmas turned into a memorable event.

Each of the children also comprised a Christmas wish list made up of four items: What I want, what I need, what I wear and what I read.

If you’re wondering if it makes a difference, it does.

“They do this for us every year, every year, and not no complaints or nothing,” said Keeshanna Mobley, who has been receiving gifts for the last three years.

1221 kids gifts Baltimore Community Event Provides 4,000 Gifts To Children From Kids Safe Zone

“You don’t see much smiles in Baltimore because there’s a lot of violence going on, and to see these little kids put everything they want on a list and get exactly what they want, it’s a joyful moment,” Mobley said.

So has Eric Morris.

“I’m going to have a good Christmas now,” Morris said.

The generous toy donation also opens the doors for other families in the community to come in and participate.

“It’s wonderful, it helps out a lot,”

Christmas cheer indeed.

“We smiling, so I thank y’all and I appreciate it,” Mobley said.

Families also received free sweatshirts from Maryland Screen Printers.

Find more information on the Kids Safe Zone here.

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