The Davis Police Department helped bring Christmas cheer to around 90 children who otherwise may not have received any gifts this year.
Davis Chief of Police Danny Cooper said 43 kids initially signed up for the department’s annual Santa Cop program this year. Now an almost 25-year-old tradition, the program allows the department to help provide assistance for families and distribute toys to children during the holidays.
The department began collecting donations for the program the day after Thanksgiving and distributed the bulk of the toys on Dec. 20. However, Cooper said the donations kept coming in, with 34 bicycles being made available for 34 additional kids the day before the program technically ended.
“We had the bicycles and all sorts of baby dolls, board games, couple of remote control cars, those Nerf guns,” Cooper said. “We had a couple of toboggans and gloves that were bought, we gave those out — coloring books, we had just a little bit of everything.”
On the evening of Dec. 23, the department received an additional donation of toys from a refinery in Wynnewood, Cooper said. The department then briefly reopened the program and distributed the toys on Christmas Eve, reaching over 90 kids in total.
“I lost count on how many toys and stuff they gave out Christmas Eve,” Cooper said. Each child was able to pick out at least two, if not three, toys. Beyond the kids' excitement, Cooper said the parents' gratitude was evident when they came to pick up the toys.
“I think it made a pretty good impact because some of these families are in oil field related jobs, you know jobs that followed the oil field kind of got slowed down,” Cooper said. “For some of them, this was about the only thing that those kids were able to get.”
For many of the families involved this year, it was their first time participating in the Santa Cop program, Cooper said. “Very seldom do we have repeat families,” he said, adding that the department works closely with other agencies to ensure that the families they assist haven’t already been helped by another organization.
Cooper said the department views the program as a way to help spread some holiday cheer and boost the morale of community members who may have simply had a tough year.
“We try to give it as ‘awarding-ly’ as possible — not giving it as a handout, but a hand-up, I guess would be a better way to put it. We’ve all had bad times before and just need a little bit of a boost.”