A man in North Carolina who has spent countless hours and his own money bringing joy to children in need for the last 50 years is getting some help from some Santa elves across the U.S. this holiday.
Jim Annis, 80, of Sanford in Lee County, makes wooden toys and delivers them to the Salvation Army of Sanford.
"When the Salvation Army gives out the food and clothes to people in this area, I give out my toys," he told ABC affiliate WTVD-TV in Raleigh recently.
When others heard his story, they wanted to bring Christmas magic to his toy shop. People from California to Texas donated money, supplies and even 500 wooden wheels to aid him in his annual holiday endeavor.
"I just want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart for your generosity," he said to WTVD-TV. "You’ve got people from California to Texas -- way out there -- I never dreamed would even hear about my story."
Annis pays for the machinery, paint and accessories himself but gets wooden pieces from his neighbors as well as scraps from construction sites. He said he spends at least $1,000 of his own money and hours in his makeshift toy factory, making cars, fire trucks, dolls and even piggy banks.
He said he does not get paid for the toys.
"My pay is when I see the smile on the kids' faces," he said.
Annis told WTVD-TV recently that he had memories of waking up on Christmas morning with no presents under the tree. He said that while his father worked, he didn't make a lot of money or the means to give his five children a lot of gifts for the holidays.
Now, the war veteran spends hours every Christmas season trying to ensure that the children in Sanford have at least one gift from his shop to open for the holidays.
"It's amazing what you can do with a block of wood," he said.
And, thanks to the elves who sent him donations, Annis is already ahead of schedule for Christmas 2020, having already gotten started on next year's gifts.