COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Santa’s elves won’t be the only ones giving mom and dad a few helping hands this Christmas. Folks were pouring in to the Valley Rescue Mission chapel Tuesday to apply for free food and Christmas toys.

“This is gonna help out a bunch, and I’m very very grateful for that,” says one participant.

The Christmas Holiday Assistance program is back again this year, hoping to serve anyone in need of a holiday boost. Valley Rescue Volunteer Joanne Parker says this cause means a lot to her.

“When I was young, my mother was widowed and there were four of us. People from churches and schools all did this for us, so now it’s our turn to give back,” Parker says.

A Columbus woman, who didn’t want to be on camera, says she came in to try and navigate her way through being a newly single mom.

“Being a parent with younger children, you know you pinch your pennies and you try as hard as you can,” she explains. “I just want to thank everyone here and wish that anyone who needs help can come in and have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”

Organizers say their goal is to give at least 800 local kids gifts this Christmas.

“They need to wake up and know, wow the wonder of Christmas and Jesus! You know, and here are these people that love us and care about us,” Parker says.

The Valley Rescue Mission chapel will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for signups until Friday. The next signup period will be September 30 to October 4.

There will also be a “Working Parents” signup for those who cannot make it during the weekdays. The Valley Rescue Mission main office will be open Saturday, September 28 and Saturday, October 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.