SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — For nearly 40 years, Martha’s Kitchen has been serving food to those less fortunate in the San Jose community but amid the pandemic is stepping in once more to bring some much-needed holiday cheer. 

 “We’re giving toys away to the community here in San Jose, taking care of the children that might otherwise not get a toy this Christmas, so that they get a wrapped toy so they can take home and wait until Christmas day to open up,” said Bill Lee, Martha’s Kitchen executive director. 

“And to have a little bit of normalcy here in a COVID year to anticipate being able to shake the box or feel the bag and wonder what goodie might be in there.”

Through a COVID-safe drive-thru toy drive, the nonprofit gave away thousands of gifts for local families just in time for the holiday season. 

On Monday, dozens of cars wrapped around the neighborhood bright and early as families anxiously anticipated outside Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish to see Santa Claus and to receive their gifts. 

For San Jose resident Kim Transhe, she is grateful for the toy drive put on by the nonprofit to help bring some holiday spirit to her family after such a turbulent year. 

“I hope for my kids in witnessing this to study harder so one day they can be donors and volunteer to help to give back to the community,” she said. “We’re grateful for all the charities and all the donors.”

In a year with COVID-19, Lee said the nonprofit decided to step in after several organizations ended their toy giveaway due to recent shelter-in-place order. 

With many families out of work and struggling to make this year’s Christmas special, the nonprofit partnered with Toys for Tots and the Order of Malta Association to provide 5,000 toys for local children.

“Martha’s Kitchen’s mission is to feed the hungry with dignity no questions asked, it’s a dignified approach to taking care of those who are less fortunate in our community,” Lee said. 

“And while toys haven’t normally been part of what we do, we do realize that this community is suffering in an extraordinary way this year especially right around here,” Lee added. 

“These are the people that are the janitors, the bartenders, and so forth that have lost their jobs … we see it in this community and people are struggling and many of these people would not have the access funds to buy their children a single gift this year, so we want to make sure that those children at least get something this year.”

In a year ravaged by COVID, Martha’s Kitchen has provided more meals, more services, and more groceries to those in need every month.

If you would like to donate to help support Martha’s Kitchen, you can do so via their website.