Charitable foundation and SLU coach team up to play Santa for underserved children

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ST. LOUIS – From opening gifts to spending time with family, some would call Christmas their favorite day of the year. But for families living paycheck-to-paycheck, gifts may not be the top priority.

The Demetrious Johnson Charitable Foundation and Travis Ford Christmas Giveback is making this holiday an unforgettable one.

"That moment of me seeing them and looking out the window, is just a positive memory, in these days we need all the positive memories you can get," said Kimaada Ellison.

Ellison, a single parent of four, said times are tough and it has been a struggle to make ends meet.

"Life doesn't always work according to plan, it's those frustrating moments when you are doing everything possible and it's still hard to get the 'wants,'" she said.

Ellison's one wish this Christmas was for her kids to have a Merry Christmas and that wish came true.

"Coach Ford and I have partnered the last few years, selecting families to give them a better Christmas and we know that there are families struggling out here, working, trying their best to take care of their families, sometimes difficult. Coach and I go out and become Santa Claus for a day," Demetrius Johnson said.

The Demetrius Johnson Charitable Foundation has been helping families for 25 years. This is the fourth year the foundation has teamed up with SLU head basketball coach Travis Ford for the Christmas giveaway.

"We are blessed in so many ways. You want to give back every day of the year as we celebrate Jesus' birth today, Christmas day, no better time to see some little kids' smile and make their day," Ford said.

Toys, clothes, shoes; the Ellison family said all of this means the world to them but it's the thought behind the presents that means the most.

"The fact that someone was willing to sacrifice from their own home, and budget, and expenses to bring a smile to a child they might never meet, that level of compassion is something that's hard to find these days," Ellison said.

Proving the gift of giving is far better than receiving.

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