BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Christmas is just 8 days away, and some local Secret Santas are making sure needy children have presents to open on Christmas morning.

Jay Lagerman founded the Belvidere-Poplar Grove Secret Santa program, which he said fulfilled a lifelong dream of being able to lend a helping hand to others.

“We were able to start this and put the feelers out, and we made so many friends with this program,” he said. “We have a lot of local business friends, and everybody started this. They are all down to help us collect for these little kids that may not [otherwise] have a Christmas.”

The program has been going for nine years, Lagerman said.

Along with his team of “elves” and local businesses, Lagerman goes around collecting toys for poor children, teens and young families.

“When you deliver that package and stuff, and you’re bringing their whole Christmas to them, some of these people don’t have anything. Being a part of that is an unbelievable experience,” he said.

The Belvidere-Poplar Grove Secret Santa program will be surprising 35 families with Christmas gifts this year. Lagerman says it is heart warming to be able to help the families in a time of need.

Brittany Bowers, the Head Secret Santa Elf for the program, is involved for the first time this year, and says she’s been enjoying every minute.

“I love helping other people and collecting toys and all that good stuff,” she said. “It’s a really cool experience, because you get to help a bunch of little kids in need and see their faces light up.”

Lagerman said, “We want to tell everyone out there, no matter if its our program or another one, help if you can. People need it.”

Donations to Lagerman’s Secret Santa program can be made here.