Increasing numbers of people are in need in the Bay Area this holiday season due to the pandemic, making food and toy giveaways and places to stay a priority.
There was a steady line of cars at the SAP Center in San Jose Saturday morning, an event that pivoted to a drive-through amid the pandemic.
“Today, the Salvation Army is here and we have the opportunity to serve 500 families in our community in partnership with the SAP Center and San Jose Sharks,” said Major Roy Wild of the Salvation Army. “They will be getting a gift card to Walmart, they will be receiving a food box and they also will be receiving a bag of toys.”
Volunteers who kept COVID safety in mind helped for the holidays. The San Jose Shark’s forward Evander Kane even came out.
“Especially with the times we’re living in, the pandemic and how many people were affected in a negative way, it’s great to be able to lend some positivity to some people in this time,” Kane said.
The daily food pantry used to handle 150 people per day, but that number has doubled in Silicon Valley. In San Francisco, the Salvation Army will be safely delivering 1,000 more meals to homebound seniors for Christmas this year.
“We’ve increased the services that we’ve provided because of COVID,” said Wild. “A lot of these families have been impacted by COVID. A lot of them have lost their jobs or been laid off due to COVID, and people are really hurting.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state program to help put people in need in vacant hotel rooms.
“Since April, through a program called Project Roomkey, we have been able to help 23,000 people off the streets and out of homeless shelters and the sidewalks during this pandemic,” Newsom said.
He said that FEMA announced Saturday that their support for the program would continue throughout the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.