THE MARTIN'S WEST ballroom was brimming over with the holiday spirit for the 16th annual Christmas Scholarship Brunch, put on by 100 Black Men of Maryland Inc.
The Boys Choir of Powhatan sang Christmas carols, as many of the 700 guests greeted one another with hugs and kisses.
Many carried bags of unwrapped toys that were being collected for the needy.
To further your own spirit of giving, you could hear about the organization's scholarships and educational programs for African- American youth, just by chatting with the boy escorting you to your table. He was enrolled in or benefiting from one of those programs.
"I think it's a great way to kick off the holidays. A lot of people know each other and it's really in the spirit of giving," said Walter Carr Jr., a member of 100 Black Men of Maryland.
"A lot are repeat guests. They've been coming to this for the last 14 to 15 years," explained member Richard Queen.
"I'm overwhelmed," said president Melvin Bates, as he watched the crowd streaming in. "It shows us people are really dedicated to helping young people of Maryland."
For many, it was a chance to see many familiar faces, like those of event chair Almie McIntyre Jr. and members Greg Moore, Willie J. Nichols and Claude A. Parker Jr.
"As this has grown over the years, people look forward to it. They call me [way ahead] to get their tickets," said economic development chair James Watkins.
You could even get a little holiday shopping done. Outside the ballroom, vendors were offering artwork, books, clothing and jewelry.
Essex crossing guard Helen Lowry and Tate Engineering accountant Sylvia Wedlock were finding plenty of Christmas cheer at a table full of glittering pins, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
"We're like kids in a toy store," said Lowry, as she tried on a dazzling rhinestone bracelet.