Bronx restaurant feeds first responders during pandemic, spreads holiday cheer

A restaurant in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx transformed during the coronavirus pandemic to help the community and feed first responders. Now, they’re bringing the Christmas spirit to the neighborhood. 
For Jackie McDonnell and her restaurant, The Kitchen, it’s always been about giving back to the neighborhood. 
When the pandemic hit, she says she sprang into action. "This community is very tight-knit, and we needed to help the locals survive this and get through this,” said McDonnell. 
The Kitchen turned the front of their restaurant into a food pantry--from extra supplies and donations--and offered free canned food, cereal, pasta and diapers. 
For those who couldn’t come out, they delivered to people’s doorsteps. 
"We were very lucky we were able to stay open, stay serving the community, keep our staff in jobs, and keep their families fed too,” said McDonnell. 
The Kitchen also created a GoFundMe to feed the first responders and delivered meals to them. 
"If one good thing is to come out of it, is that we pulled together and will be a better community afterward,” said McDonnell. 
The restaurant is also an important holiday stop for kids this season as they can write and mail letters to Santa right from the restaurant. 
"I think Santa Claus knew we needed it this year, we definitely did. You know, it’s been a tough year for everyone,” said McDonnell. 
McDonnell says Santa “broke in” one night and left the mailbox for children’s letters while an elf decorated the restaurant. 
She says kids can mail their letters from noon to 10 p.m. every day.