The tsunami of posts depicting cops lavishing children with Christmas merriment and presents (presence) well before the actual holiday is like manna from Heaven for all parties at the table.
Some law enforcement agencies cater Christmas parties at their HQ or another suitable venue. Others bring the party to you, often at schools or community-based meeting places where everyone gets to revel together and share time well spent.
In Orlando, a host of police officers didn’t only put on a red/white felt Santa hat and bellow Ho-ho-ho, they also performed recon in advance of the Christmas party, purchasing gifts and trinkets for every youngster in the group.
Per an Orlando Police Department press release, “Thank you to all City of Orlando residents who made it out to OPD’s Annual Community Christmas Party. Over 200 kids received gifts employees purchased through the Angel Tree. From a caricature artist and Santa himself, we all had a great time!”
That passage represents thousands like it, spanning the country, illustrating cop shops that go shopping with carts and load the boat with goodies for the kids to relish and remember for a lifetime.
Channeling the Toys for Tots program, our law enforcement organizations conduct shopping sprees for the base of Christmas trees. Sometimes, they even bring the tree.
It was always one of the lasting treasures harbored by this retired cop’s memory lane. Given socioeconomic impacts which segue to dire straits in households with one or more children, beat cops are occupationally positioned to turn frowns upside down, in the form of human smiles.
In essence, I was able to assess from observations and/or testimonies from single parents or custodial guardians how bleak the season looked because of meager means. That grabbed me every single time.
What do our LEOs do in such circumstances? They quietly get busy to effect change, to fill households with positivity, all craftily topped with bows on an assortment of gifts…so the young ones make memories despite difficult conditions. These poignant moments are mutually fulfilling for cops whose psyches extraordinarily tend to many malignancies in society.
With the nation’s onslaught of depraved individuals wholesaling public safety with the care and concern of sedimentary rock, law enforcement professionals are the shiny side of the coin, their value of enormous humanitarian deeds not only at Christmastime but throughout the year. We just don’t see it all unfolding. Certainly not from the media outlets that harbor dubious views and are ostensibly employed/deployed by politicos platforming antithetical ideas for kicks (votes).
Nevertheless, cops take it in stride and go on with gracious efforts to warm the hearts and souls of innocent children who deserve mile-wide smiles.
Months before any jingles were in mind or playing on the car radio, my department’s police force, sworn and non-sworn, launched fundraisers to purchase gifts for the city’s kids. Civic groups like the Women’s Club and others unwaveringly backed the blue by providing both monetary and tangible gifts for all youthful ages. As a consortium of city merchants, the Chamber of Commerce aggregated funds and goods and furnished it all for delivery by police personnel.
The discreet, bigger gift, though, came from blue pockets: each member of our police force contributed from their own doles to ensure many others would have gifts at Christmas, sealed with love from law enforcement officers and police personnel, signed as “From Santa.”
When I was active duty working a 12-hour stretch on midnight shift, my primary zone of police responsibility and coverage was sort of shared with a county sheriff’s office deputy who, every Christmas season, would somehow rig the interior of his cruiser’s ceiling with a string of multi-colored lights. On the midnight shift, that’s gonna sparkle and draw attention.
As one might imagine, kids were bedazzled by the seasonal spectacle.
Effectively, that deputy was in a prime community relations realms…and brought keepsakes to etch momentous interactions during a season of spiritual celebration.
He would patrol and wave from his cruiser. He would stop for any assemblage of kids and hand out small gift bags, trinkets, and police stickers kids just can’t get enough of.
I once spotted him pulled over at a 7-11 lot, with a gaggle of children and adults slowly walking around his car, like a touristy venue glistening with a light show. I joined him for a few minutes, mindful of my radio chatter and that it was a weekend night (bad buzz is gonna come, full moon or not).
What I saw stayed with me all these years: the deputy’s Christmas lights reflected in all the children’s eyes, their smiles projecting awe, their parents’ expressions telegraphing gratitude for taking the time and not departing without depositing a gift catering joy to developing minds and impressionable hearts.
I shook his hand and thanked him for sharing the moment, more important, his willingness to color outside the lines and create his masterpiece: a pure exhibition of God’s peacekeepers doing exactly as intended…enhancing the lives of as many as possible.
From this, I ponder all of those merriment seasons in December, whereby cops show up and show out on behalf of youthful humans, perhaps inspiring any to one day become just like “that cop who gave me a bunch of cool stuff for Christmas” back in the day.
Given our country’s continuing strain of severely depleted ranks and police recruiters challenged to bolster the nation’s number of public safety pros, I am compelled to think some of the recipients of good cheer, thanks to cops, set out on future paths to perform similar life work such as policing.
Akin to the Christmas tradition marked by the brief video above,
With certain politicos barking anti-police nonsense in ears —and an incoming crop of congresspersons against criminal justice— cops all over cater good cheer.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t even planned…yet the spark sizzles and gives birth to protégés:
Doing good throughout all the bad finds its way back to good again… ‘Tis the season for emphasis.
As the California Highway Patrol echoed at the end of their heartfelt footage: “Never miss an opportunity to extend kindness. It can change someone’s life.”
In season, indeed…
This article originally appeared at the National Police Association