Posted on December 24, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Tuesday, Dec 24 at 1:21 PM
AUSTIN -- Christmas came early this morning at Dell Children's Medical Center.
Elves with Austin Police Department's Blue Santa Program are bringing a little Christmas cheer to patients and their families. Santa and his helpers delivered toys to about 200 boys and girls; patients and their siblings.
The program collects toys all year round for area families. On Tuesday, the teams loaded them up on carts based on gender and age and which wing of the hospital the child was in. They then divided up and delivered them to kids of all ages.
Officers say they're overjoyed to be able to bring a little happiness to kids whose medical conditions won't allow them to be home for the holidays.
Assistant Chief Jessica Robledo said, "This warms our heart, it makes it all worthwhile. This is what it's all about. It's giving back, paying it forward. Just hugging somebody, smiling at somebody, just being able to say 'Merry Christmas.'"
APD's Blue Santa program started in 1972 with a few officers that wanted to give back to the community. They identified 20 families that were in need, and delivered gifts to children right out of the back of their police cruisers.
Today the program helps nearly 4,000 families every year.