Inside was every child's dream—a room filled with toys, books, games, stuffed animals and even one of Santa's elves.
Outside, excited parents waited patiently in a line that stretched along several store fronts at Braddock Hills Shopping Center, holding a ticket in their hands that, at this time of year, was a close second to a winning lottery ticket.
It was more than a ticket to allow them to shop for free for holiday toys. It was a ticket to making their children's dreams come true.
Propel Braddock Hills High School hosted Play It Forward Pittsburgh's shopping day on Saturday, where families who are in need or might be having a tough year were able to select up to five gently used toys for each of their children.
In one section, there were so many stuffed animals that two tots virtually disappeared in the pile as they played. Dolls, building sets and other toys made the room a kaleidoscope of colors.
Parents entered in small groups to keep the shopping orderly. With smiles on their faces as they exited, you'd almost think they'd seen Santa themselves—even though they were the ones with bags full of toys flung on their backs.
"As we wrap up this year we are so humbled and blessed to tell you that we gave away toys to over 2,000 local children," posted the Play It Forward Pittsburgh Facebook page after the event. "We haven't added it up yet but that is probably 20,000 toys. We are speechless."
The group also thanked Propel's principal, Joe Oliphant, and the school for its support.