Meijer and Toyota of Muncie were immersed in a wave of red and yellow T-shirts Saturday belonging to volunteers working with the Secret Families Christmas Charity. 


A few hundred volunteers gathered to bring Christmas to less fortunate families in Delaware County.


Al and Chris Holdren began the charity in 2004, initially helping two families.


This year, they provided 180 families with a decorated Christmas tree, $500 in gifts and a $50 gift card to Meijer for Christmas dinner. 


Chris helped cofound the organization and said the growth of the program is a positive trend. 


“It’s a good thing to let others be a part of it if they wish,” Chris said. 


The charity raises funds during the year entirely through volunteer donations.


The leaders of the organization ask for donations of meals for volunteers, utensils, wrapping paper, tape and live Christmas trees. 


Volunteers are welcome to sponsor a family, which requires a donation of $550 in order to ensure one family is completely supported. 


Registration was available online days before the event; however, registration in the morning was also possible. 


At 6 a.m. Saturday, volunteers began filing into the Muncie Meijer. 


Jessica Craft, a Ball State sophomore, is a member of the softball team and volunteered at the event. 


“Oh my, I felt so many joyful emotions at once,” Craft said. “Most of all though, I felt blessed — blessed that God gave me another day to be able to help people.”


Each group of volunteers was given one family for which to purchase items. 


They decided where they would meet and who would get items for each family member.


The organization gathered a Christmas list from each family before the event, and volunteers were instructed to get at least one age-appropriate toy for each child in the house and at least one household item for the adults. 


The goal is to purchase as many gifts as possible for each family member while still staying within the $500 budget. Each family member’s gifts were separated into bags.

 

Different groups of people were responsible for transporting the purchases back to Toyota, where they were wrapped. 


To support the charity, Toyota closed its doors to the public for the day. 


Each group of volunteers worked to wrap gifts for the family.


It was important that the gifts were properly labeled and kept together. Delivery was made simple: large red ribbons were tied in front of each home before the day of delivery.

 

To deliver the gifts, a group of volunteers carried the wrapped items into the house and put them wherever the family wanted them. 

 

“Multiple teammates [volunteered] multiple times throughout delivery and said they were going to start crying,” Craft said. “I am glad that there is an organization like this to give families love and hope.”