The Red Oak Police Department is in its second year of leading an effort to ensure less fortunate children have a merry Christmas.

Officer Joe Fitzgerald heads up the department’s Santa Cop program, which works with the community to help provide underprivileged families’ children with toys. The program seeks out donations from local businesses to help provide toys to children before Christmas Day, with the help of Santa Claus.

“It is a toy drive that was started in 2006 to get the community to come together and help provide for families that can’t provide from themselves during the holidays. We want to make sure that children have a good Christmas,” Fitzgerald said.

“The purpose is to give back to these people and allow their children a chance to have a Christmas, otherwise they may not,” Lt. Boyd Brock said.

Eastridge Elementary School assisted in the toy drive by donating toys, with the class donating the most class recently rewarded with a pizza party.

Gardner’s Kwik Kwar, along with Valvoline, also joined in the effort by donating 16 bikes and 1,000 gallons of oil to customers in exchange for a toy Dec. 8.

With the help of chaplain Jarod Douglas of Red Oak First Baptist Church, a list of families was provided to the department with the agreement that Santa could provide toys to their children before Christmas Day.

Fitzgerald said the department has seen an increase in numbers this year as compared to last year’s.

“Toys have doubled this year from last year, along with the families,” he said.

The deadline to drop off toys was Dec. 17. Toys will be delivered to the homes of families on Saturday, Dec. 22.

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