LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Three years ago, several LAPD officers decided a toy drive simply wasn’t enough.
It’s a toy drive that lets the children meet the men and women who are giving them the presents..
Christmas came early for 150 kids at the Union Rescue Mission Thursday.
As CBS2’s Rachel Kim reports, the Santa and his helpers this day were mostly in blue, not red.
“Thank you for having me,” said Officer Deon Joseph, “We just wanna say, ‘We love you.'”
Officers from the LAPD’s Centeral pass out presents as part of the “One Cop, One Kid” toy drive.
One officer adopts one child from the mission and sees to it they get something on their Christmas list.
Joseph and a retired detective started the program three years ago.
“We started noticing they were getting so big. And it became so heart-breaking,” Joseph said. “We wanted to do something to lift their spirits.”
Joseph said the smiles they see on the kids’ faces are priceless. While many try to hide their excitement, they can’t help but express how happy they are.
For the officers, it’s a chance to show their jobs go beyond just protecting — but also including caring.
Kaliyah Smith, 11, got the pony she asked for. Well, in this case “My Little Pony.”
Kim asked Smith what it means for her to get a present on Christmas.
“It means I’m really happy and excited and special,” she said.
Her mom echoed that sentiment.
“Seeing her face on Christmas morning,” said Emmethia Smith, “and knowing she got what she wanted, that’s the best present any parent can have.”
The officers she adds, “are a blessing from God.”
The officers feel pretty blessed, too.
“Often it’s out job to respond to the bad things,” Joseph says, “so what this does for me, to give a family hope, you know, it just warms my heart.”
Joseph also hopes this toy drive points out the need for more shelters across the county.