EL MONTE (CBS) — The El Monte Police Department announced Monday it will provide more than 800 Christmas baskets filled with food and toys to the city’s needy residents.

The Community Relations office project began 29 years ago with 30 families receiving baskets.

El Monte Police Department Detective Larry Fry has been in charge of the project for seven years and helped coordinate it for more than 24 years, even before becoming an officer.

“I do this because I used to be one of the kids who received the baskets,” Fry said. “This was my Christmas.”

Fry delivers the baskets and he and his partners spend hundreds of hours picking up the donations. With the help co-workers, college interns and volunteers, all the toys are separated by age. They also make sure the food is distributed evenly among the families who receive the baskets.

More than 500 people volunteer each year and the giveaway is completed in about four hours. Firefighters, police, city officials, school personnel and community members begin early in the morning to assemble and deliver the baskets.

The families are chosen by school nurses, school resource officers and school personnel through sign-ups at the police department’s community relations office.

Anyone interested in donating food or toys for the baskets, or who wants to volunteer, should call (562) 580-2186.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)



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