APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – A local church in the Triangle is hoping to create some magic and cheer this Christmas for hundreds of families.

On Friday, United Church in Apex opened its doors to invite families to an annual Christmas Store. Executive Pastor Erin Currin said it’s a 21-year tradition for the church.

“One of the beauties about the Christmas Store, is that clients get to choose their own toys for their children,” said Currin.

With the help of more than 200 volunteers and multiple partnerships, Currin said they’re able to help 354 families and more than 800 children in Wake County.

“It’s awkward sometimes to ask for help, but clients that come into the store are just excited about the opportunity of getting toys for their children, of being the person to give those toys to their children and to also have someone meet them where they are and see their need,” Currin said.

During a tour of the store, Currin pointed out several rooms filled with toys for different age groups. Families were given the opportunity to pick out three toys for each of their children and then have their gifts wrapped and loaded up to take home.

“It means a lot because, for some people, this is a very difficult time of the year,” said Jasmine Luvert who traveled from Holly Springs.

Luvert, who has two children, said she found out about the Christmas Store through her child’s school.

“It’s supposed to be a happy time, but you still have to live your everyday life like paying your bills… so providing gifts can be difficult,” Luvert said.

Luvert said families have continued to face challenges created by the pandemic including higher food and gas prices.

“Especially with the rent increase — everything is just increasing,” she said.

Luvert said she hopes other families who may be struggling have the same assistance in their communities to make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Currin said there’s a reason volunteers look forward to the event every year and said it can be emotional for both families and volunteers involved. Luvert had a large smile as she waved goodbye and yelled, “Thank you, Merry Christmas!”

The church said the Christmas Store will open again on Saturday. Registration for families opens again in October.