Published: Dec 13, 2012 2:47 PM EST
Updated: Dec 13, 2012 5:05 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. (WINK) - Hundreds of Southwest Florida children will have gifts under the Christmas tree this year, thanks to the generosity of others.

A local organization known as "The Spirit of Christmas" is living up to its name.  President Jim Jamieson says it's come a long way from helping one family when he and his wife started the charity some 15 years ago.

"I've sat on my front lawn with nothing," Jamieson remembers. "I know what it's like to be down and out.  A lot of these families have had a tough year and will have a tough Christmas, so I'm happy to raise money and help them out."

With the help of donors, fundraising, and the assistance of American Legion Post 274 in Fort Myers Beach, "The Spirit of Christmas" raised $26,000 to share with more than 200 area families in need.

Thursday, those selected to receive assistance arrived at the Walmart on Colonial & Ortiz in Fort Myers.  Parents were awarded prepaid shopping sprees to buy gifts for their children.

Shelby Kruse said the generosity of others would ensure her 11-month-old son had clothes for the new year.

"Clothes and new shoes," she said. "That's what I got him. And a few toys he's already trying to play with."

Most families are referred to the organization through area churches, schools and hospitals. Donations are accepted year-round, and Jamieson says it's never too early to start planning for next year.  More information can be found through the website: http://www.spiritofchristmasinc.com/