By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
The police officer knocks on the front door, and it opens a crack and then more. Two boys peer out.
Patrol officer Carolee Jones introduces herself and asks the boys if they’ve heard of Operation Santa Cop. They said they hadn’t, but the two youngsters learned about the toy drive program firsthand when Jones handed them a box of Christmas presents.
Brothers Chris and Zachary Bliss are among children on the Portales Police Department’s list to receive Christmas presents this year.
“I think it’s very giving,” said Chris, 10.
Jones explained to the brothers that the toys weren’t just from the police department, but also from many people in the community. Chris said he thought it was “interesting” that people would do that, and both boys expressed gratitude for the individuals who provided their gifts.
“I’m thankful for all these gifts that all these people gave us,” Zachary, 8, said.
Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said the department had nearly 600 children on the Santa Cop list, some who lived as far away as Elida and Causey. The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office delivers gifts to children outside the city limits, while Portales police take care of those in town.
“We’ve been really blessed with a lot of donations,” Berry said.
By Monday afternoon, officers had delivered toys to more than 500 children, and Berry said they would work on it up until the last minute on Christmas Eve. People can donate toys or sign up children until then.
“We understand difficulties, and we do what we can to help them out,” Berry said.
Officers also bring food to some families.
Toy shortages are on Berry’s mind during Operation Santa Cop.
“I worry about that every year, but the community responds well, and I’ve never run short,” he said.
Berry said the police department looks forward to Operation Santa Cop. Jones spoke well of the program too.
“I like doing this because some of the kids we have contact with don’t have a very positive image of law enforcement,” she said.
To sign a child up for Operation Santa Cop, call the police department at 356-4404. To donate, bring unwrapped toys to the department at 1700 N. Boston.