STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- On Christmas morning before sunrise, Santa Claus and his favorite helpers at the Stockton Police Department made some very special deliveries to families who are victims of violent crimes.
Stockton Police spokesman Joe Silva told FOX40 they want those families to know, they haven't been forgotten.
"They could be at home right now with their families but they chose to be out here making a difference in our community and visiting some kids that definitely need some holiday cheer," said Silva. "Just to let them know that they do matter and that their police department does care about them."
The event is part of the department's 20th Annual Officer Matt Smith Christmas Delivery Project.
Everett Johnson lost a loved one to violence and he told FOX40 his family appreciates the gesture during a difficult time.
"Santa Claus coming in and the police giving us food and presents and stuff, it's actually like very amazing you know," said Johnson.
"Homie Claus" and Stockton Police delivered toys, food and Christmas cheer to 80 kids at the shelter, two in the hospital and more than 35 families across Stockton who have had an especially tough year.
"It made it very special to know that people actually care for other people," said Johnson.
A Christmas caravan helped Santa spread the holiday spirit from one neighborhood to the next, as "Homie Claus" and dozens of volunteers gave out additional presents and hugs to other kids in the community at every stop.
"We just want to make this a very great day for those families in need," said Silva.
Over the past 20 years, Stockton police have been doing the project and have visited more than 700 families and, with the help of volunteers, have given out more than 15,000 toys donated by the community.