By Katie Herrera
ENSLEY (WBRC) - Christmas will be a bit merrier for some folks in Ensley this year, because toys and clothes were given to less fortunate families.
Wednesday, the Ensley Park Recreation Center looked more like the North Pole. Tables were covered with new toys and presents were being wrapped with bows on top.
"It's just like a joy in our lives. And this is Christmas. This is what Christmas means to us. It's all about receiving and helping others. This is my Christmas today," explained Venice Pickens, who many consider the "Rec Center Mother."
Pickens and her non-profit organization, Heavenly Angels, rallied the City of Birmingham, State Rep. Rod Scott, Ensley Recreational Center workers, Fairfield High students, Walmart and other area businesses to donate toys and clothes for the cause.
"It's something that needs to be done every year, but particularly this year. It's been very hard on families financially and otherwise. And we wanted to do everything we could to make everyone have a very merry Christmas and happy holiday," Barry McRae with Sterne Agee said.
This is the fifth year the Heavenly Angels have helped Christmas in the Ensley community. Last year, they gave presents to nearly 350 families. This year, three families were given special bags of goods, because they lost everything in a recent apartment fire.
"It's been a rough year. Everybody knows the economy is bad. But God is good, and he looked out for my family. And Santa Clause loves me, too!" Tanya Wimley, one of the apartment fire victims said.
And whether they picked out basketballs for little boys or baby dolls for little girls, most families shared the same reaction.
"I'm going to need these, I'm going to use these, and I'm going to appreciate these with every fiber of my being!" explained Wimley.