‘JM Toy Giveaway’ part of growing charities run by local family, friends

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'JM Toy Giveaway' part of growing charities run by local family, friends
Members of the Martinez family. (All photos contributed)

Jairo Martinez, a 31-year-old Richmond native who currently resides in Pinole, says his parents taught him and his siblings to be grateful for what they have, and to help people when they need it.

“My parents have always worked hard to provide for us when we were younger,” Martinez said. “We wouldn’t get everything we wanted due to circumstances but they did their very best.”

That inspired Martinez to do his best. In 2018, he began setting aside a certain amount of money from his paychecks in order to give back to the community. Nearly four years later, that seed of gratitude has blossomed into JM Charity, an organization Martinez started with help from his family, and La Diferencia, an organization he began last year with his friends who were inspired to join his efforts.

On Dec. 18, JM Charity will hold its 3rd Annual Toy Giveaway event at the Martinez family business, JM Customz, 754 Market Ave. in Richmond. The event will include children’s games and activities from noon to 3 p.m., and the toy giveaway for children up to 12 years old from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event will also feature free haircuts for kids, live music, and activities including ornament and cookie decorating and a photo booth.

In previous years, JM Charity held its event at Phila Burger thanks to the burger shop’s owner and family friend, Sam Lee (see photo below). This year, the event has shifted to JM Customz. The “JM” in the business name represents the Martinez brothers — Jonathan, Jair, Jordi, Jairo — and Jairo’s two sons Jordan and Jayce. 

The Martinez family doesn’t only help their community during Christmas. Since 2018, Martinez has led efforts to provide food and essentials to the homeless and people in need, including warm Thanksgiving meals, and held food drives benefiting community members, particularly those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“We also do a lot of fundraisers with the help of my mother Veronica and wife Yenifer,” Martinez said. “The club and I donate the money and help and they both (Veronica and Yenifer) make tacos to sell.”

Their efforts raised $5,600 to support the family of a coworker who died along with his wife, leaving behind three young children. They also drove down to Long Beach to provide $3,000, toys and groceries to the family of a 3-year-old girl with a brain tumor. Other efforts have raised $2,000 for families suffering through difficult times.

Last year, a group of Martinez’s friends said they wanted to help, too. They volunteer to help prepare for events, hand out donations and contribute their own money or items when they can. Those donations contribute to the newer club, La Diferencia, which translates to A Difference.

For JM Charity’s upcoming Toy Giveaway on Dec. 18, Martinez plans to buy toys from different stores such as Target, Walmart and Marshals in the local area.

“This is my third year doing this and it will be one of our best ones,” Martinez declared. “I hope to keep on doing this every year, much bigger and better, with more toys for the kids in our community.”

The rapid growth of Martinez’s charitable efforts — launched with money set aside from his paychecks — shows how a little gratitude can go a long way.

“I would like to thank my family for always supporting me to do these acts of kindness,” Martinez said. “Also to my friends and Club La Diferencia that also contribute and to community leader Diego Garcia, who also has shown me how good it is to help others. With the help of all of them, I’m able to help even more.”

For those wanting to help in this effort, contact Jmartinez323@me.com or (510) 806-5220.