Children and parents poured in by the busload to the Gallery Furniture parking lot in north Houston during the day on Christmas Eve, each one of them seeking a gift.
“We do it because we have a responsibility to the community,” said Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mac” McKingvale. “And if we made some children happy, some parents happy, then we're doing something good.”
The giveaway ran from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday with kids and parents standing in line for hours hoping to get a gift and a pair of Van's tennis shoes.
Volunteers estimate between 15,000 and 20,000 people showed up to the giveaway. It was four times as many as they had expected. Many of them were bused in by METRO which operated a park-and-ride shuttle service to-and-from the location between Tidwell and Parker.
McKingvale attributed the size of the crowds to the long-term impacts Hurricane Harvey has had on Houston-area families.