Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Dozens of children got a chance to celebrate Christmas early at an after school program in Columbia.

Santa and his elves made an early stop by Christ The King Lutheran Church on Monday night delivering gifts to more than 40 kids attending the Monday School after school program.

The once a week program provides a safe place, school help and a meal for disadvantaged youth from pre-school to high school. 
"The main thing that we do is we just love on them," says Sarah Hardin. "We let them know that someone's here, someone cares about them and that they are important to us."

To show love, Hardin and several volunteers got together to donate items on their Christmas list.
"I think most of the kids looked at me like I was crazy when I asked 'What is one thing that you could absolutely want?'" says Hardin. "At first they told me things like 'Oh a jacket, or a book bag' something simple. Then I said no, if Christmas was tomorrow and you were to wake up, what was the one thing you would love to have?"

The students answered with things like bikes, games, dolls, and the volunteers delivered.
"I got Jordan's and clothes," says fourth grader Trinity Bouknight. 

Not only are the volunteers putting a smile on the faces of children, but they are also helping out their parents.
"It's a blessing," says Sharon Pridgen, mother of six. "It's a great thing, they do it every year. So it's really nice to be in the neighborhood and get the help as far as making sure the kids have something it's a blessing."

Six hundred items were donated allowing each child to receive 10 to 15 gifts, and know that it's going to be a Merry Christmas.