Local organizations are coming together this week to help those in need this holiday season through the Neighborhood GIFT program.

Wednesday and Thursday's events help hundreds of families across Anchorage and Eagle River have a happy holiday giving gifts for children in need who are 14 years of age and younger in the Anchorage Bowl area and food preparations for a festive holiday meal.

The Salvation Army's Alaska Division, the Food Bank of Alaska and Lutheran Social Services of Alaska are expecting more than 4,000 families will come get food and toys this year.

Organizers say this little help goes a long way for the families.

"Families are so relieved that they can provide a holiday meal without having to jeopardize their rent payment or gas to get to work," said Jim Baldwin, the food bank's CEO.

Food and gifts for the event are provided by generous community members and organizations in Anchorage and the surrounding areas.

"Thank you to all who have donated gifts, time and money towards The Salvation Army, providing us the opportunity to hold events like this that provide a sense of hope for those in need during this special time of year," said Major John Brackenbury, the Salvation Army's Alaska divisional commander.

Organizers hope this year's event will spread some joy this holiday season.

"It's especially hard this time of year and so if we can help bring some relief to a parents and joy to children's faces on Christmas Day that's what it's all about," said Alan Budahl, the executive director of Lutheran Social Services.

Neighborhood GIFT is taking place from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Anyone is welcome to come, and the organizers will have plenty of toys and food for everyone.

The Salvation Army of Anchorage is still in desperate need of holiday volunteers. You can sign up to help through its online volunteer portal.

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