SJ's Martha's Kitchen sees higher demand for warm clothes at this year's Christmas dinner

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose nonprofit Martha's Kitchen provided a home-cooked meal with a side of Santa on Wednesday evening.

The soup kitchen opened its doors for Christmas dinner. The pandemic only allows for guests to pick-up items, so there was no dining indoors.

Roughly 50 volunteers packed plates for those living around the city's Calle Willow neighborhood.

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"The neighborhood itself is not that well-to-do, but then we have all these unhoused neighbors that are camping along the trails, and the banks, and the edges of the community," Martha's Kitchen Executive Director Bill Lee told ABC7 News, "who are completely without anything at all."

Lee said the request for free food resources is three times what it was two years ago, before the pandemic. And unlike previous distributions, he said coats and warm clothes were a bigger demand than food.

"Like this," Malaysia Walton, 9, said as she showed off her warm gear. "And my hat, and my jacket, and my scarf."

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With her mother's permission, Malaysia explained the items will keep her cozy and keep her from getting sick.

The chilly weather was the reason 350 people came out for coats, hats, and gloves in the first 30 minutes.

Malaysia described, "People were gathering over there because they were cold and they were trying to get as many jackets as they could."

It was much-needed clothing that came at no cost.

"These are the people that are the janitors at the offices that haven't gone back to work. So their job hasn't come back," Exec. Dir. Lee shared. "These are the people that are working in restaurants that serve lunch to the offices downtown that haven't come back."

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Malaysia's mother said that because of the pandemic, her family was forced into a shelter for the first time in their lives. She said being able to count on Martha's Kitchen is helping this holiday season.

"It provides us to not get cold and it provides us to have a warm happy heart," Malaysia shared.

You can find more information about Martha's Kitchen here.

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