WORCESTER, Mass. – Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope is marking 40 years of spreading Christmas joy to families in need.

The Worcester nonprofit’s Christmas Giving program is a joint effort where central Massachusetts churches and small businesses team up to hand out winter gear and holiday presents.

Deacon Walter Doyle said the effort starts the first Saturday in October, and they'll collect anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 presents.

“It’s big,” Doyle said. “It requires part of a store, the whole second floor of the building, it requires our whole shed just to keep the things organized. The hard part is keeping the things organized and making sure everything that goes in the bag is correct.

Looking back on four decades of giving, Doyle said he’s proud of how consistent they've been, growing the program from 27 presents the first year to now helping 1,500 kids celebrate Christmas.

“Our policy here is to try to find the least, the last and the left out,” Doyle said. “The people who have fallen through all of the safety nets, the people that are really hurting who just have nowhere to go.”

Doyle said the effort is made possible with help from up to 250 volunteers.