MONTREAL -- Over the course of the next three weeks, volunteers at the Welcome Hall Mission will hand out close to 3,500 Christmas presents to 1,500 children in need.

“They are so excited,” one Montreal mother told CTV News. “They have been looking forward to today and here they are.”

The toys are all brand new and there’s something for kids of all ages.

“It’s for families who come in regularly to our free grocery stores,” explains Sam Watts, CEO of Welcome Hall Mission. “So these are families that, at the end of the month, they’re having to make difficult choices — like ‘do I buy boots for my kids or do I pay the rent?’”

On top of the presents, Santa also made an appearance on Saturday.

Sud-Ouest borough mayor Benoit Dorais donned the Santa suit for the seventh year in a row.

“[The kids] are very happy, they receive a chocolate and a candy cane,” he said.

The event doesn’t have the same bustling energy as in previous years, as COVID restrictions only a few families can come in at a time — but Welcome Hall Mission says the holiday spirit is still going strong.