ST. LOUIS — Christmas came early for more than 1,000 families in the St. Louis area at the Union Station Hotel on Sunday.
Demetrious Johnson, a former NFL player and St. Louis native, held his annual toy giveaway to bring youth together and take a load off of their parents.
"I didn't get anything. Merry Christmas the lights it's on. It's a little joke but it's real. the honest to God truth you know. I'm so grateful and thankful to be here," said Loletha Taylor, a parent.
Johnson and his foundation, the Demetrious Johnson Foundation, gave away thousands of dollars worth of toys to deserving kids along with food and live entertainment.
"It's a heck of feeling to have that, man. To see the impact you can make in people's lives," Johnson said.
The community activist added that he spent the last three decades giving to others because he had someone to do it for him.
"My mother was a strong lady in my life and God Rest her soul. I just continue what she did for other people," Johnson continued.
He hopes to be an example for others with a similar path, like Mizzou wide receiver Luther Burden who also shared words and signed autographs at the event.
"I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in and I know the kids look up to me so I just want to give back to my community and see the smiles on their faces," Burden said.
Learn more about the Demetrious Johnson Foundation here.