MCPHERSON — There’s a memory of a Christmas gift opening that sticks in the mind of several McPherson police officers — those officers lucky enough to be there when the gift was unwrapped.
"One year we had a kid that unwrapped a box, and was so excited that he got a box, he didn’t open the box (before officers left). It was great," said Mark Brinck, administrative captain/public information officer for the department.
Officers played the role of Santa as part of the Blue Santa Program by the McPherson Police Department. With the assistance of the McPherson County Community Foundation, the police department raises funds to purchase Christmas gifts for children and delivers gifts before Christmas each year.
The 2020 Blue Santa Program is underway. The McPherson Police Department is raising money to purchase gifts, clothes and needed items for children and their families this holiday season.
In 2019, the department provided Christmas for nine families with 23 different children. They are expecting to help more families, and more children, this year.
"2020 has been a very difficult time for many people. The financial hardships have been a struggle for many of our citizens," said Police Chief Mikel Golden.
The department reaches out the McPherson elementary schools to find families who are in need of some assistance at Christmas.
"The schools coordinate with us and the families to make sure it is OK for us to do it," Brinck said.
From there, the department raises funds for the effort and shops for gifts.
Anyone interested in donating can contact Capt. Mark Brinck at 620-245-1206.
Brinck told The McPherson Sentinel those who donate more than $10 will receive a special Blue Santa button from the police department.
"We have a lot of them left, and we want to get more of them out there," Brinck said. "We hope to have all the fundraising done by Dec. 11. The reason being after the 11th we get our lists finalized and go shopping."
Fundraising efforts start, each year, within the department. Officers and department staff can donate $25 to the cause. For their donation, officers and staff are able to observe "No Shave November" and "Dress Down Fridays."
"Within reason they can go without shaving facial hair and dress down on Fridays," Brinck said.
This year officers will go shopping for gifts Dec. 16.
"Walmart helps us out quite a bit," Brinck said. "... We spend the next two to three days wrapping gifts."
In years past officers have delivered gifts to the family home, and following delivery would usually watch children open one gift. That, however, will change due to COVID-19. Officers will likely not stay after the gifts are delivered.
Donations for the program can be made by mail by sending checks to McPherson County Community Foundation, 1233 N. Main St., McPherson, KS 67460.Checks should have "Blue Santa Program" listed on the memo line.