Early Christmas for hundreds of Fresno families

FRESNO, Calif.

This celebration has been taking place for the last twelve years.

Parents said Saturday's free warm lunch and visit from Santa is the only Christmas they will be able to provide their family. Christmas arrived one week early for these Fresno children.

"It's not about how many presents you're getting or how much money is going to come in. It's about us being together," teen Miriam Hernandez said.

All of these kids come from low income families.

Donavon Martinez said he has no money for gifts to buy his four children. "It's really important to be here. I don't have a job. They stopped my unemployment. All around Christmas time, around the holidays."

The Fresno Housing Authority and Fresno Self-Sufficiency Corps which helps families become financial stable raised more than $7,000 to provide this Mexican lunch and pumpkin pie desert.

"It's really all about love and coming together at this amazing time of year and sharing what we have, whether it's a lot or a little, with those who have less than us," said Eileen Neely, Chief Operating Officer for the Housing Authority.

"It brings joy to my heart to see that somebody cares. And it lights up the eyes of the kids," Resident Rhoda Hoy said.

Over 50 volunteers showed up to help serve lunch. Hoover High Junior Ty Jones was among them.

"I see a lot of kids out here who when they draw on the table they show a lot of nice family pictures and it kind of makes me happy that I can help them out," Jones said.

Before the kids went home with full bellies and a gift jolly Saint Nick showed up.

The toys Santa brought were provided by the Marines Toys For Tots program which is seeing a bigger demand than ever.

Despite all the joy event organizers admit there were fewer toys to hand out.

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