BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There are nine shopping days left until Christmas and while many people continue to look for the perfect present, others still wonder if there will be any gifts to open this year. That's where some local elves are helping out.
For 14 years, Hope Ministries has run the Christmas Place. It's available to parents who use the services of the non-profit in North Baton Rouge, in the 70805 zip code. Parents who signed up back in October were allowed to enter Tuesday and shop for their children.
"We have always served about 300 kids, but we're serving 400 this year," said Kelli Rogers with Hope Ministries.
She said that equals to be 146 families.
"They're going to be so excited," said Stephanie Foster, one of the several parents waiting for their turn to pick out presents.
Foster said she's been without a job for the last year, but is taking classes at Hope Ministries to get back on her feet.
"Like wellness classes. Classes on raising kids and managing money," she said.
Hope Ministries allows people who use their food pantry to take part in the Christmas giveaway. They also help parents with finding jobs.
"We know what their struggles are and what their joys are. Being able to serve, it's huge," said Rogers.
The organization teams up with Exxon Mobil for the annual event. Workers at Exxon have a toy drive to make sure there are enough gifts for parents to choose from. This year, they also donated toys to Toys for Tots.
"I'm always getting emails saying 'hey when can we bring toys,'" said Tara Bazille, the project coordinator at Exxon.
She plans the toy drive and then gets volunteers to come and help parents pick out toys for their children.
"When I grew up, we didn't have a lot of money, so I know how I felt. Just seeing everyone come through, smiles on their faces, it does something to me personally," said Bazille. "It's about giving."