Operation Blue Santa Brings Christmas Joy to San Angelo Children
About twenty-five police officers were gathered in Walmart Saturday morning. The task? Operation Blue Santa.
For seven years the San Angelo Police Department has hosted their “Shop With a Cop” at Walmart.
“I saw that we basically needed to get back into the community,” Officer Brian Bylsma said of how the program got its start.
Bylsma presented the project at a board meeting and was met with immediate approval.
“A lot of it had to do with showing the kids we aren't the bad guys all the time, that we are there to help them and when they need to come to a police officer, they can,” Bylsma said.
The SAPD collaborates with the school district in order to choose their participants. This years funding from the local community, businesses, and Walmart allowed for 41 children to “Shop With a Cop.”
Bylsma said each participant is notified by a hand-delivered letter.
Shara Perkins-Beard said her son exclaimed, “There’s a copfficer here,” when he saw a police officer drive up to their home on a motorcycle.
She said, “He has the joy gene. He is always happy and doesn’t know a stranger.”
After being notified that he would be participating in this years Operation Blue Santa, Perkins-Beard’s son, who has Williams-Beuren Syndrome, said “I just want my Blue Santa to get me a gum ball machine.”
Blysma said, “I’ve seen kids over the years buy more for their family than for themselves, that is why we make a requirement for them to spend some on themselves.”
He said the event allows for the children to be able to not only buy for their family and themselves, but to connect with the police officers, too.
Sergeant Korby Kennedy said, “When we deal with 90 percent of the public they are calling us because there is an issue we have to take care of. We don’t get called because someone got a promotion at work or someone got an ‘A’ on their report card.”
The officers said the event gives them a chance to not have to worry about arresting anyone or having to pull a child out of the household.
Kennedy said, “It is just as beneficial for the officers as it is to each and every one of those kids.”
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