Many are celebrating the holidays with their loved ones this week. And the Buffalo Police Department and the Buffalo Sabres wanted to make sure all families can feel the Christmas spirit. YNN's Kate McGowan explains.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It was all about spreading some heartwarming cheer. This Christmas Eve, hundreds gathered at the First Niagara Center to package up gifts for families in need. It's a tradition, 18 years in the making.
"You got hundreds of people here that are actually supporting it and helping out and making it all happen," said former Sabres player Rob Ray. "It makes you proud that it's grown to this."
Buffalo Sabres alumni and the Buffalo Police Department team up each year to make sure all Buffalo families have presents under their tree. The officers said it's important to know they're doing what they can.
"The police department identifies families in need throughout the year," said Buffalo Police detective Mark Fitzpatrick. "We come up with a list and we go out between the police officers, the Buffalo Sabres alumni and community. Our families also help out tremendously."
Ray expressed that it's an event many look forward to. He said it shows the outpouring of love from the Western New York community and proves why we are the 'City of Good Neighbors.'
"It's a place where you put the word out that you need help and it's amazing what comes forward," Ray said.
A young volunteer exclaimed, "It's fun to help other people, it's a good feeling."
After packing up the gifts and food, the officers distribute. Those behind the effort said it's all smiles and sometimes tears from those who are impacted.
"It's great when you knock on their front door and they invite you into their home. And you see how much they appreciate what you can do for them," said Fitzpatrick.
The Buffalo Police Department tells YNN that close to 50 families are able to celebrate this holiday season, thanks to the efforts from this event.