By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s no missing the Christmas spirit when you’re with Pauline Jackson’s kids. There’s 19-year-old Tahira, 18-year-old Tayana, 9-year-old Keeyon, and 7-year-old Tahjae, who all decorate while Prince the cat relaxes.

“I don’t know who’s actually more excited, them or me,” Pauline said, “because I know I get up every Christmas morning, getting to blasting Christmas music.”

Tayana said Christmas morning is full of “kids yelling and screaming running downstairs, about to fall and trip over each other!”

Christmas is always joyful, but not always easy. Last fall, Pauline developed back pain so severe, she had to leave her city contractor job.

“I do aquatic therapy. I get a lot of back injections, seeing multiple doctors, trying to resolve the pain,” she said.

Pauline’s two older daughters knew the Salvation Army well. They both did paid internships, and volunteer with kids between school and work.

“I never worked with that many grateful kids like that. They was so grateful and so sweet,” Tayana said.

Tahira agreed. “Everybody in Salvation Army, they just love everybody.”

Last year, they were helped by the Salvation Army’s annual toy drive, which helps thousands of families every year. The organization even included some extra for Keeyon, whose birthday falls on Christmas Eve.

“We had little things, then the Salvation Army helped us out with the rest of the things,” Tayana said.

Pauline said there were “a lot of great gifts that you wouldn’t even expect came from the Salvation Army.”

Pauline is still undergoing treatment and hopes to be back at work in the new year. She says her children celebrate the season with gratitude, no matter what comes.

“I just think anything Santa gives me, I will like it,” Tahjae said.

“Just the littlest things they’re just happy for it,” Pauline said.

Tahira Waters said, “We appreciate everything from the bottom of our heart, and that’s from my whole family.”

CBS3 will be collecting new unwrapped toys until December 20 through our Joy of Sharing ToyFest. To find a link of drop-off locations, go to

Ukee Washington