By Cleve Bryan

PITMAN, N.J. (CBS) — Acts of kindness are spreading across the region this holiday season. The holiday hustle and bustle is reaching a peak ahead of Christmas Eve.

Still, volunteers in South Jersey made time for those less fortunate.

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There’s a touching honesty in a child’s letter to Santa, especially during hard times.

“This gal writes that she’s bullied in school and she’s struggling and her mom and dad were struggling. They were living in their car for a while,” Elissa Darrow said.

As a single mom who has overcome domestic abuse and homelessness, Darrow feels the pain of these children who wrote the letters. She’s grateful she is now able to help.

“All these kids are my kids and I got to make their Christmas special,” Darrow said.

About a decade ago, Darrow’s daughter Katelyn started the Angels Community Outreach in Pitman. They help meet the needs of hundreds of local families.

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With Christmas just days away, the purple-clad elves are working double-time. They’ve got about 500 kids counting on them.

“Right before Christmas it’s just complete madness, we’re all Santa’s elves helping out. Families are coming in, specifically parents are picking up toys and we’re just trying to fill every child’s wish list,” Katelyn Darrow said.

The angels aren’t alone in spreading cheer on Christmas Eve’s eve.

At the Unforgotten Haven in Blackwood, volunteers spent the day sorting toys.

They’re helping with a toy giveaway Monday night at nearby Jersey Life Church. And thanks to some generous last-minute donors, they’re whipping up a second giveaway at their headquarters on Christmas Eve.

“We’re all stressed out right now, we’re all trying to do this and pull off our own Christmas but this is what we do. This is what we’re sent to do by the man upstairs,” Jeanne Rodrigues said. “This is the real meaning of Christmas.”

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Both Angels Community Outreach and Unforgotten Haven say they really appreciate the help they get around the holidays but they need support all year round.