By John Ramos

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — With Christmas rapidly approaching, the pandemic is having a Grinch-like effect on a lot of the usual traditions. Across the Bay Area those who organize yearly toy drives are finding creative ways to get the job done.

“We do not want to be deterred by COVID-19 or anything else going on” said Darrel Cortez, executive director of the Shop With A Cop Foundation of Silicon Valley. “These families need us and we want to give back to them as much as we can.”

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In normal years, the Shop With A Cop program pairs kids with an officer for a $150 shopping spree but, this year, it was a drive-by event at the local Elks Club.

Santa waved at cars from his chair and a machine created a miniature snow flurry for them to drive through. Officers from a range of South Bay agencies, including San Jose PD, Santa Clara sheriff’s office, the FBI, DEA, Los Altos police and Santa Clara County Parks, lined the route handing out bags of gifts and spreading cheer to 240 families.

“We’re lucky to still have this event — following the protocols — because people need that,” said San Jose police deputy chief Anthony Mata. “People need to know that we’re still out here, not only as law enforcement agencies but as human beings.”

In the East Bay, Hayward police officers also couldn’t hold their normal holiday event so they’ve spent the past two days going to individual homes to hand-deliver gifts and toys.

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Speaking of toys, those who ride the expensive kind gathered at San Francisco Harley Davidson Saturday morning to deliver a stash of gifts collected by motorcycle clubs for the S.F. Firefighters Toy Program.

“It’s a great brotherhood,” said Bay Area rider Red Sanders. “Everybody here, I think, are the greatest people I’ve ever met in my life, you know? They all do it and it’s important to them.”

The U-Haul truck they loaded with gifts got a thunderous escort from the riders as they delivered toys to the firefighters. Back at the shop, general manager Chris Farney enjoyed pointing out that motorcycles may actually be a safer way to travel during a pandemic.

“We think that Harley Davidson and a motorcycle in general is the original social distancing machine,” he said with a smile. “So, that’s been our go-to since March when everything got weird for everybody.”

Thanks to all those who turned out Saturday, the pandemic took a back seat so some kids and their families could have a happy ending to this most trying of years.

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The San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program is still accepting donations. If you’d like to help, the number to call is (415) 777-0440