NORFOLK, Va. - The excitement of Christmas filled the halls and classrooms of P.B. Young Elementary School in Norfolk, Va.
The school, located in the heart of a public housing project, is one of the poorest schools in the state. Most here are likely to receive very little by way of Christmas presents.
Many of the students walk to school, and during the colder months of the year officials noticed a sharp decline in the number of kids in attendance.
"It was freezing," the school's principal, Alana Balthazar, recalled. "We were standing at the front door and I caught a few of my staff members saying 'Where is your coat? Where are your gloves? Button your coat up. Where is your coat?'"
"But it was more so 'Where is your coat?' than 'button it up' and we were just in the office talking like our children need coats," she said.
CBN's Oprhan's Promise heard about the problem and offered to help keep kids warm for the winter.
"Orphan's Promise is all about taking children who are at risk and moving them to thriving," Terry Meeuwsen, director of Orphan's Promise, said. "And so we called and said 'How can we come alongside of you and help you with what you're doing?'"
"And so the kids were cold and the weather was turning and we said 'How about jackets? What if we did jackets, scarves and mittens?' and so that became our mission," she recalled.
The response was overwhelming.
"We put out the call and we had hundreds of jackets that came in from our people," Meeuwsen said.
Students from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade received pizza, goodie bags filled with sweet treats and the latest Superbook Christmas DVD.
"What better way to be Jesus with skin on than to come alongside of the precious children who really are just discovering who they are and to hear the message of God's love," Meeuwsen said.
To their surprise, each student - nearly 500 in all -- enjoyed a "mystery" gift in the form of a brand new coat. Students eagerly unwrapped their gifts and proudly modeled new jackets, scarves, hats and gloves.
The teachers were overjoyed.
"It's amazing," one teacher said. "I couldn't believe the generosity."
"I have never, ever heard of organizations doing it for the whole school - not just for one or two children, not just for a kindergarten class but from pre-K to 5th grade," another teacher said. "It's awesome, an early Christmas today."
Orphan's Promise and United Way of South Hampton Roads teamed up for the coat outreach.
"It's an exciting opportunity to bring these kids brand new coats with tags on them. A lot of these kids never see tags on clothing," United Way Director Sarah Bishop said.
Parents like Marquita White say the coats couldn't have come at a better time.
"It's great that someone could help us out - me being a single parent, it's remarkable," White said.
Students were filled with awe and joy for the early Christmas gifts.
"There was a lot of hollering and screaming and stuff," student Treasure Wade recalled. "I didn't know that we was getting coats actually, but we did and I love my new coat."
"I absolutely adore it," student Yaijah Abdulbaaqee said. "I think Santa put it in CBN's mind that they should get some kids some coats and I'm so thankful."
Principal Balthazar hopes this Christmas miracle serves as a teachable moment for her students...
"I hope that a seed was planted today for children that had a need, when they realize when they grow up that others have needs, that they'll in turn reciprocate the blessing," she said.
It's a blessing 3rd grader Robert Johnson is already willing to share.
"I was thinking that when I get older I'll give some coats to more people like CBN gave to the kids," he said.