By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
The Portales Police Department has been working to provide toys food for families in the area through the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree: Operation Santa Cop toy drive since November.
As of Wednesday, Deputy Chief of Police Lonnie Berry said 760 children, 58 more than last year, had received toys. He also said Santa Cop has made 21 food basket deliveries and expects to do a total of 25.
Patrol Sgt. Kane Wyatt has been making deliveries since 2005 to area families.
Wyatt said it is a very positive thing because some people might have seen the police in a negative light before.
Emily Truelove, 7, had a chance to see the inside of a patrol car when Wyatt dropped off food at her family’s home.
“I thought it was cool because I’ve never got to see the inside of a police car before,” Truelove said.
The children mobbed Wyatt when he came in the door, asking all kind of questions about his uniform, his police radio and if he carried handcuffs. Wyatt let the children take a look at his car and turn on the lights.
“I think it is a good thing what Santa Cop is doing, especially for the children,” Maria Truelove, Emily’s mother, said. “Some of us don’t have a job right now so the food will go to some good use.”
After stopping back at the station and loading up some canned food, Wyatt was off once again with three boxes of canned food and two bags of noodles.
“I think some people have been surprised to see us there,” Wyatt said. “They are even more surprised to learn about the reason why we are there. We are quick to point out that we are there with gifts for the children of the household.”
Wyatt has been busy most of the day making deliveries with other police officers. Next on the list was to drop some toys and canned food off at Amanda Johnson’s place.
“We get to see members of our community who are in need,” Wyatt said. “In some small way, (we) met those needs and sometimes in bigger ways by giving them food that will get them through the days and weeks ahead.”
Johnson lost her job in November and said her mother had brought some Christmas gifts for the children.
“The littlest child hasn’t seen the toy so we’ll try to wrap it,” Johnson said. “I think it is wonderful what the police are doing.”
Berry said police have finally gotten caught up on things to the point that they are waiting for people to call in a name of someone that might have a need.