(KATV) North Little Rock - You don't need a red suit and beard to play Santa. In fact a non-profit dedicated to children, kicked off Christmas a little early. R.O.C.A.N provides shelter, mentoring and meals for at risk kids in Pulaski County. For more than a decade they've teamed up with the Angel Tree and volunteers to make Christmas extra special.
You know there is nothing quite like seeing a child's face light up on Christmas morning. So, Friday is a preview, for the volunteers to see the kids get the presents they bought.
Seven year old Samartra Boyne doesn't want one big presents, "I want a lot of them."
He knows the drill. He comes here every year to get gifts from people he has never met who want to make his holiday a little brighter.
Lashell Slater says, "It helps a lot because I don't have enough to get all their stuff."
Samartra's mom, Lashell works two jobs and with four kids, presents are a struggle. She says, "So it's been a lot of help, it keeps a lot of kids out of trouble."
Leifel Jackson says, "We do a little here and other programs do a little and that's what makes a whole." Jackson started R.O.C.A.N, it stands for Reaching Our Children and Neighborhoods. He says, "I think at the end of the day the whole family prospers because mom or dad don't have to spend the money that they'd normally use to buy food, on gifts."
Friday, dozens of kids waited patiently to get their presents; some gifts, like bikes, were more obvious than others.
It took two grown men to get Samartra's gifts. They were piled so high, you could barely catch his grin from ear to ear.
Lashell says, "It means a lot. It means a whole lot. It means somebody cares and somebody is thinking about you."
Samartra holds his gifts and says, "I'm happy."
Jackson says this is his Christmas, "Every program that's giving to the kids. Every little bit helps. Thank you all."
Kids didn't open their gifts Friday, plus organizers don't want them to compare because they came from different people and all price ranges.
SOME CHARITIES THAT STILL NEED TOYS, CLOTHES AND FOOD:
STOP THE VIOLENCE: December 6th, Channel Seven reported an anonymous donor gave Stop the Violence 100 bikes for their bike drive. For that story Click Here. It was the most generous single donation they've every received but the goal is 200 and they're lacking 60 bikes promised to families. More families continue to call, pleading to get on the list. The bikes are handed out Christmas Day. For more information on how to help, call Rev. Benny Johnson at (501) 541-1951 or Master Richard Anderson at (501) 375-5507. You can drop off bikes at Master Richard Anderson's Taekwondo Studio located at 5909 South University. It is in a back building on the Lander's Pre Owned property. They are in need of bikes of middle school age kids.
THE LITTLE ROCK COMPASSION CENTER makes three meals a day, every day of the year. For Christmas they expect upwards of 1,000 people to stop by. Aside from food, they also hand out gifts like gloves and other necessities. The priority is getting food donated, but they welcome gifts for adults and children who stay at the shelter. The Compassion Center is the largest homeless shelter in Arkansas, serving more than 150,000 meals a year and housing more than a hundred people each night. It is located at 3618 W. Roosevelt Rd. Little Rock, AR 72204. Contact: Rev. William Holloway Cell phone 501-831-2340
THE WATERSHED services thousands of families leading up to the holidays and thousands more on Christmas Day with gifts and a hot meal. They are currently preparing Christmas food boxes and need more food. Rev. Hezekiah Stewart says they can only give one toy per child because there are so many people in need and they might run out of gifts. He says several major donors were unable to give this year. Stewart says anyone who wants to donate toys, food or clothes or volunteer can contact the Watershed at (501) 375-0255 or 501-378-0176. The Watershed is located at 3701 Springer Blvd. Little Rock, 72206