YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Childrens’ eyes lit up Thursday morning at the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley when a special visitor delivered presents under their tree.
“The light in their eyes, that is the type of light that everyone should have,” Santa said.
But instead of reindeer accompanying the jolly old fellow, there were dogs.
“We bring all sorts of shelter pets. This year, we have Lila from Animal Charity Humane Society. It serves two purposes, three actually. Kids love visiting, interacting with the dogs, the dogs get some exposure and they get out of the shelter,” animal advocate Jason Cooke said.
Cooke coordinated the event. He said it is so rewarding to see these families taken care of on Christmas.
“It really lets them know that people do care about them and it’s very rewarding for me and I think they enjoy it,” Cooke said.
Toni Henderson stays at the Rescue Mission. She said being able to see her granddaughter open gifts and spending time with her this holiday season is a Christmas miracle.
“Last Christmas, two weeks before Christmas, she had open heart surgery and to see her running around and playing and healthy. She was a miracle,” Henderson said.
This is the fourth year the Rescue Mission has hosted the event, and it is expected to continue bringing Christmas spirit to those less fortunate in the Valley for many years to come.