It looks just like a toy store and shoppers might be surprised at who they find inside. It's not every day that you get to go shopping with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. He was one of hundreds of elves that volunteered to help people shop at the Sacred Heart Toy Giveaway Thursday. "It's a great thing this time of year to be with friends and family. It's also important to help other people," he said.
Officials said they anticipated handing out toys to 5,690 children over two days. Parents have appointments for the shopping, but some still camped out overnight in the cold. "I've been kind of unfortunate this year, so I thank God for this organization," said father Ramon Mendoza. "This organization has been a blessing to me and my family."
The need has grown in the past year. 500 more kids are registered this year than last year which makes this year feel a little more meaningful in more ways than one. "Especially at a time when the nation is focused on children and caring for our kids, we want to do our part in our county," said Sacred Heart spokesperson Zsofia Madi-Szabo.
Each family can choose two gifts and one book per child. And, the selection will not disappoint. "I'm doing good out here for them, you know? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like a mother should feel," Joann Mendoza said.
Sacred Heart still needs more toys, approximately 300-400 more, especially for teenagers. They are focusing on books, promoting literacy as a way out of poverty. They will be on site all day Thursday and Friday at First and Alma in San Jose.