(WBIR) Hours of preparation and work by hundreds of volunteers paid off Saturday when the 101st annual Empty Stocking Fund helped feed thousands of families in Knox County.

Volunteers handed out 3,600 boxes to needy families on Saturday at the Jacob Building with enough food to feed a family of four for about a week.

It also ensured local children don't have empty stockings for Christmas by giving out 3,000 new toys and books.

Knoxville News Sentinel employees said all the hard work pays off by getting to see the families come through and pick-up their food and toys.

Making a difference in thousands of peoples lives takes a lot of work. For more than 100 years the Knoxville community has answered the call of donating to the Empty Stocking Fund.

"I think everyone in Knoxville and around knows that our community is very giving of both their time and their financial support to a lot of things in the community, so we're just a very giving community and couldn't do it without them," said Angie Howell, marketing director for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Howell said more than 800 volunteers helped hand out baskets Saturday.