Waking up in the intensive care unit, Donald Lockwood's first thoughts after being nearly beaten to death while delivering a pizza were about his children.
"What am I going to do for my kids for Christmas?" he remembered thinking.
Monday night, his worries were quelled -- and then some.
Hundreds of people gathered at Casa di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue, one of the two pizzerias where Lockwood worked, to raise money for him and his family.
Many who attended the benefit were friends.
Even more were strangers.
They wrote out checks, emptied their wallets of cash, and some even brought gifts for the children.
Lockwood, his right arm in a sling and his head badly scarred, could hardly find the words to convey his gratitude.
"I just can't express it," he said as he looked out at the room full of supporters. "It's just been awesome. . . . I'm just overwhelmed. I definitely never expected this."
On Nov. 7, Lockwood, 30, was doing deliveries for another pizzeria, Zip's Pizza on Grant Street, when he was attacked. He had taken the Zip's job to help pay for Christmas gifts for his little ones.
The assailants bashed him in the head with baseball bats and stomped on his back and chest.
He staggered to his car where his girlfriend, Lindsey Carter, was waiting for him. She dragged him into the vehicle, drove away and then called 911 for help.
Monday night, at Lockwood's benefit, his family presented Carter with a dozen roses and a certificate, thanking her for saving Lockwood's life.
"She's my angel," he said of Carter, as she lovingly tended to him.
Lockwood's father, Donald Miller, looked amazed as he watched his son walking and talking in the banquet room at Casa di Pizza, something he feared would never happen again.
"I didn't think he was going to make it," Miller recalled.
He, too, was grateful for all the strangers who came out to help his son.
"There are more good people than there's bad," Miller said. "That's for sure."
Among those who came to help was Mary Livingston, a Goodwill worker who brought presents for Lockwood's children.
"A doll and some race cars," she said. "I just feel bad for the guy. I wanted to help him out."
Jackie Windnagle of Clarence came to the event with her daughter, Jessica, 14, after hearing about Lockwood's struggles.
"It's Thanksgiving week," she said. "What better week to go?"
Buffalo Police Officer D.W. Draine Sr. took out all the cash in his pocket and put it in one of the donation boxes.
"I was profoundly moved," he explained.
Frank Pinzone, 48, a delivery man for Kensington Avenue Pizzeria -- who himself was stabbed and robbed just last Thursday -- came to show his support.
Justin Priola, 42, a family friend, said he had told Lockwood not to worry, that things would turn out well.
"The city is going to show you how they love people," he said. "Buffalo comes through. It always has."