An annual holiday toy drive by Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose has a record number of kids set to receive gifts but is about 3,000 toys and books shy of its goal, and the parents of needy children are set to pick up the toys on Friday.
"We have never helped this many kids before," Jay Pecot, the director of development, said. "We've had a real challenge here."
Pecot said Sacred Heart's gift giveaway is "part of our responsibility in a community where income disparity is so great. We need to have everyone work together."
The charity, located at 1381 S. First St. in San Jose, had a room full of bicycles, robots and other toys early Friday morning. But the nonprofit still needs the thousands more toys and books to maintain its stated promise of three toys and a book for each child, Pecot said.
"At this point in time, we are short," Pecot said.
Giving out books is meant "to encourage literacy in the family," he said.
On Friday, parents who have signed up in advance for the toy distribution program will arrive at Sacred Heart's Toy Room to shop for age-appropriate toys and books for kids up to age 18.
The non-denominational organization, which serves mainly the working poor of San Jose, is expecting around 3,000 parents on Friday and another 3,000 Monday to claim gifts.
The parents then take the items home to "play Santa" and surprise their children with presents for Christmas next Wednesday, Pecot said.
Among the most sought-after presents are action figures and Lego building sets, as well as bicycles, for which parents entered into a drawing for the 500 bikes available at Sacred Heart, Pecot said.
Volunteers will also be there to shop at Target with gift cards if certain categories of gifts parents seek are not there, or for teenaged children who can be difficult to shop for, according to Pecot.
San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo will be one of the volunteers helping to give out the gifts to parents beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, according to Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart's volunteers are accepting donations of toys and financial aid from the public today until 5 p.m., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and for more limited hours on Saturday, according to the charity.
Donors may also contribute funds online at www.sacredheart.org/holidays and can drop off toys, books and other gifts at the charity's drive-thru donation station at 1381 S. First St.