WASHINGTON - In a little room in the basement of a building in a tough part of the District, there was some holiday magic. Never mind that it was not yet noon and the invitation said the dress code was pajamas.
In pajamas the kids came, giggling their way through a holiday party designed for nothing but fun.
"I just like to see them smile and make their day," said Shreka Robinson, director of the Benning Courts Community Center. "Some of them might not have Christmas or they might have Christmas, but we just wanted to give something extra because they deserve it."
With nimble hands and vanilla cream icing, a gingerbread house was made. Just a few tables down, a person from the mayor's office helped the children stack cookies.
Kimberly Howard came here with her 6-year-old son.
"He was like, 'Mommy, I have to wear my pajamas,'" Howard recalled. "I said, 'Pajamas today?' And he said, 'Yes, Ms. Shreka said we have to wear our pajamas today. It's Christmas.'"
D.C. police officers pitched in to buy the children puzzles - bags of them.
Rosa Martin came with her two great-nephews.
"It means a lot because a lot of the parents are unemployed and the kids are not really getting anything so this is definitely a blessing for them too," she said.
But the people who really came through for these children are Metro track workers. They took up a collection and raised hundreds of dollars to buy toys for 40 girls and boys.
"Oh, it was exciting," said Gavin Pitt. "Made me one big kid again."
He grew up here in the Benning Courts apartments and just wanted to give back.
"We asked for donations for all the employees that work in the track department, in SafeTrack and the maintenance department," Pitt said. "We came together and were able to raise $1,300."
The money paid for two gifts for every child at the party.