It will be a "Blue Christmas" this year for thousands of Austin children, and that will be possible thanks to an intense but productive shopping spree that happened Tuesday morning.
The company RetailMeNot, Inc. challenged the Austin Police Department and Austin Fire Department to collect as many items as possible in only two minutes time. Interim APD Chief Brian Manley and AFD Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr put together a strategy beforehand, mapping out the exact route they would take. Chief Kerr said it while this event is fun, it can certainly be exhausting.
"I'm telling you, that three minutes goes by so fast that when you're done, you're breathing hard and sweating," Kerr said. "It's so great what this goes towards, it's all worth it."
All of the items collected in this time period will then be auctioned off, with the money raised going towards APD's Operation Blue Santa -- a nonprofit that works to provide families with full holiday meals and children with new toys.
"This just demonstrates the heart of Austin as well as the partnerships within the community and within the business community," Manley said. "It highlights, unfortunately, the need that we know we have in this community, but we don't turn a blind eye to it. We come together and we find a way to make ends meet."
The two chiefs piled on more than $5,000 worth of Sam's Clubs electronics, gadgets and items. RetailMeNot, Inc. will match that number and bump it up to $10,000, as this will potentially help out 6,000 families in the Austin area this holiday season.
Marissa Tarleton is the chief marketing officer for RetailMeNot, Inc. and she said this is one of her favorite events of the year.
"It's really a fun event where everyone can get together and think about the true meaning of Christmas, which is giving to families in need," Tarleton said.
Volunteers with Operation Blue Santa will use the money raised to deliver packages to families and children this Saturday, Dec. 16.