COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Bishop Barbara Shepherd knows what its like to wake up Christmas morning with nothing.
Growing up poor, she remembers just how discouraging the holidays were.
But now, as pastor and founder of the Words of Wisdom Christian Center, she gives the gift of Christmas to hundreds.
"I came up in poverty and I just have a heart of helping people, I told my grandmother that one day, I was going to help somebody and here we are today," Shepherd said.
And many others were there as well.
On Christmas Eve, Shepherd opens her doors to the public.
She has for 31 years.
They raise money to collect toys for children -- hundreds of them.
And the people come.
People like Kathleen Pate.
"I'm here with my grandchildren and my daughter to get some help for Christmas, because they're giving all the children at least one new toy and they're drawing for bikes for some of the children," Pate said.
Her granddaughters are named Faith, Hope, Love, and Joy.
They walk away with Christmas presents, like many others, who may not have gotten one without Shepherd's help.
It's an opportunity to help the children have something Shepherd never did.
But the families walk away with much more --- the understanding that someone cares and the true meaning of Christmas.
"People are in need. They are not able to buy the children the Christmas stuff and we just told them to come on in and you don't need your social security number, you don't need anything but yourself and your children to come in...and we have something for you," Shepherd said.
And that something provides Faith, Hope, Love and Joy with more than just a gift.
It gives them a name and a reason to be encouraged.