Woman spends year collecting Christmas presents for kids in need

By Tim Gerber - Reporter/Anchor

SAN ANTONIO - Bridget Dickens said she knows what it's like to wake up without presents on Christmas morning. Her efforts to make the holidays brighter for some East Side residents has earned her the name "the Christmas Lady."

"We started collecting toys last year right after Christmas," Dickens said. "We would like to make sure that no child goes without a toy for Christmas."

For six years, Dickens has given Christmas to those who otherwise might not have one.

"We know what it's like to wake up on Christmas morning and not receive what you ask for and not receive anything maybe," Dickens said.

The mountain of toys Dickens had collected and purchased for this year's giveaway wasn't always so big.

"The first year we did it I think was 2011 we received like 5 families from the family service association," Dickens said. "Last year we did over 1,500 kids and we're expecting even more this year."

Dickens' desire to spread Christmas cheer comes from the fact that she saw her own family struggle.

"We didn't always get Christmas," Dickens said. "My parents couldn't always make Christmas so I made a promise to myself that my kids would never see that struggle."

Through her charity "All God's Kids" she collects thousands of toys for kids.

"I kind of strong arm most of my family members and make them donate," Dickens said.

Dickens, like Old Saint Nick, gives thousands of toys away every year and throws a big party for the kids.

"Everything here is free," Dickens said. "No one charges anything. Everyone donates their time, their efforts, everything is donated to us."

Dickens said she doesn't expect much in return. The smiles on the faces of the kids are all she needs.

"I almost cried earlier -- almost teared up to see how far we've came and how far we've grown but it's heart warming to see the smiles on the kids faces," Dickens said. "If I just see one kid come smile at me, give me a hug, my day is made it makes all this worth while."

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