By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) In the wake the recent violence in Denver and Aurora, a group is determined to spread Christmas cheer to inner-city families.

(credit: CBS)

“This is going into my 40th year working with our kids in this neighborhood who are attracted to certain negative elements,” said Reverend Leon Kelly. He’s the Executive Director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives. “This is our hood, and the makeup is of all of us.”

On Saturday morning, volunteers handed out hundreds of age-appropriate toys, provided by Toys for Tots and Lloyd Lewan and the Lewan Family Foundation. In an annual Christmas Party, various community organizations partner to curb gang activity, with the overall goal of cutting off recruitment. Kelly says that’s accomplished by getting to at-risk youth when they’re young, giving them alternatives to gang life through mentorship.

(credit: CBS)

“We got presents, we got vendors, agency groups, what a community is supposed to look like,” said Kelly. “It’s about people coming together.”

“It’s a chance for us – our church meets in the suburbs in Highlands Ranch – to be involved in the inner city,” added Pastor David Jensen of God’s Community Church.

By doing the giveaway, Kelly hopes the gesture shows kids that someone cares about them. “When I look over and see my kids who are grown now and dealing with their own kids, it makes me feel like the efforts over these decades have not been in vain.”

“So that we can be face to face with one another and involved in those great relationships of love. That’s what this season is really all about,” said Jensen.

Children five years and older were also able to receive free COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the party.

Mekialaya White