APD pushing for Operation: Blue Santa donations


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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Posted on November 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 29 at 1:01 PM

AUSTIN -- A desperate plea for help is coming from the Austin Police Department. Its annual Operation: Blue Santa holiday toy drive is short on donations.

Every year the department gathers toy donations for children in need as a surprise for the holiday. However organizers lost touch with one of its main partners this year, the Christmas Bureau.
Up until Wednesday the department hadn't heard from the director at the bureau. APD says it is responsible for taking in applications for Operation: Blue Santa. The director, Shon Washington, seemingly disappeared. He appeared again this week and said he had just returned from a months long trip.
Thursday morning APD Chief Art Acevedo stood alongside the board of directors for Operation: Blue Santa and said he’s launching a criminal investigation to determine whether any foul play is involved in Washington’s absence.
Nonetheless both sides met on Wednesday in an emergency meeting. They are now working together, scrambling to make up for lost time.
"We're still taking in applications right now, so we don't know how many people are going to apply. Every year is different and it seems that this year there's gonna be a greater need. So our goal is really to get every family that has applied for assistance, get them help,” said Board President Scott Stephens.
APD is predicting a list of at least 3,500 families in need this year. The department is hoping the annual Chuy's Children Giving to Children's Parade this weekend will help boost the donation count. Those donations directly benefit Operation: Blue Santa.
Donations can also be dropped off at any Blue Santa collection box. There are more than 150 located throughout the city.