SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While many people gather with family on Christmas, some may not have the opportunity to do so. The St. Francis House in Sioux Falls worked hard to make Christmas extra special for its guest, but it wouldn’t have been possible without some generous donors.

“Merry Christmas” filled the air in the St. Francis House on Christmas morning as guests gathered to receive a gift bag full of various items.

Executive director Julie Becker says it’s something they do every year.

“We try every single year to make Christmas very special only because many of our guests are missing their families or they can’t see their children or for whatever for a variety of reasons,” Becker said.

They had people donate brand-new hats, gloves, sweatshirts, socks and some other basic items including money. One donor even gave each guest a $100 bill.

“They wanted the guests to know that they are loved and that they believe in them and to give them hope in a time when it can get very dreary, and you can think of all the unkept things that you’ve done in your life, so it is just a blessing with the all the donors who gave stuff,” Becker said.

Carlie Davis has been staying at the St. Francis House for five months and says the organization is what got him back on his feet.

“That’s a very big gift for everybody. I mean, holy buckets I’m very grateful. It’s quite an opportunity that we all have here. I don’t take it for granted,” he said.

Becker encourages all the guests to pay it forward and use the money they got to help someone else.

“It may not be a lot but just even a simple doing something nice for their family. Last year, we had one of our guests help pay for someone’s groceries that was in line because they forgot their wallet, and it made them feel so good that they could do that to give to others,” she said.

Delon Buchanan has been a guest there for a couple months. He says it means a lot to spend time with other guests this Christmas since his family is not here.

“I do things for other people not for anything back in return. I do it to pay it forward, and I encourage everybody to do it as well. Don’t do nothing just because you want something back in return. Do it out of the kindness of your heart,” Buchanan said.

This is Becker’s 17th year working on Christmas day, and she says seeing the guests’ faces when they receive their gifts is extra special.

“Many of them have not received a Christmas gift in many years. Many of them are used to having used stuff their entire time here, and this is a time they get something new. The hugs that I have gotten this morning and just the appreciation is priceless, and so that’s why I’m blessed to be able to do this every single Christmas,” Becker said.

They also had games throughout the day such as bingo, a gingerbread house making contest and more.