Victoria Police Department's Blue Santa delivers the goods
By BY DIANNA WRAY
Dec. 18, 2010 at 6:18 a.m.
Heads poked out windows and doors at Creekstone Ranch Apartments as the police-led convoy pulled into the apartment complex early Saturday morning.
People eyed the flashing lights closely until Blue Santa stepped out of the first vehicle and hoisted a bag of toys to his shoulder.
Adjusting his soft blue coat, trimmed in white, Officer Jeff Lehnert, dressed as Blue Santa, knocked on an apartment door.
"Merry Christmas! Blue Santa's here for you, and the police department is always here for you," he said, gently handing a woman a sack full of brightly wrapped gifts.
On Saturday morning, the Victoria Police Department held the second annual Blue Santa delivery, driving through town in a convoy of flashing lights, delivering toys to children across the city.
This year, Blue Santa visited 495 children who might not have received gifts on Christmas morning.
The police also brought around bins of toys, allowing neighborhood kids to pick out a toy even if they weren't on the list to get gifts.
More than 50 volunteers have worked to collect presents, wrap and deliver them. They started collecting toys and accepting names for donations in October, officer Shane Wallace said.
"It's important to be involved in the community, helping out where we can. ... Things like this make everyone remember what Christmas is all about," said Victoria Police Department employee Cynthia Inmon.
The program is good for the officers, too, police chief Bruce Ure said.
"The police officers have a wonderful time doing it. It helps them to help out," Ure said.
Parent Sherrena Thornton looked at the pile of gifts deposited at her door and dabbed her eyes.
It was a relief knowing she would have presents for her two sons on Christmas morning, she said.
"Now we feel good. We get to have Christmas," Thornton said.
This is what the Blue Santa program is all about, Wallace said.
"This is something we look forward to. There's nothing to describe how we feel," Wallace said.
Fluffing up the white beard he wore suspended from his ears, Lehnert agreed.
"It's the best feeling ever. We see so much of the bad stuff in our job, and now we get to be a part of the good," Lehnert said.