NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christmas has come early for some children in the Bronx.

Melissa Ortiz posed as Santa and dressed 20 members of her family as elves to deliver toys and lift the spirits of 160 less fortunate children at the Dr. Richard Green Early Learning Center of Leake & Watts on Tuesday.

Ortiz started the tradition four years ago to teach her own children about gratitude and appreciation.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

“We wanted to teach something to our children,” Ortiz said. “We shouldn’t wait for disasters or tragedies to come together as a community and do something.”

This year, Ortiz said the tradition has taken on greater meaning in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Just show them that there’s hope and not everybody out there is like that,” Ortiz said.

The children, some with special needs, are aged two to five and attend two early childhood programs in the Bronx.

“Our big family can just put so many smiles on all those kids,” daughter Amy Ortiz said. “It’s just a good thing.”

The family began raising money for the gifts in August and stretched out their dollars by doing most of the shopping on Black Friday.