Redlands Police Officer Joseph Tamayo, Cpl. David Frisch, Officer Shelby Donley and Deputy Chief Travis Martinez prepare to distribute holiday gifts to neighborhood children Thursday, Dec. 17.
By Carl Baker for the Redlands Community News
Despite the pandemic, Redlands police are still reaching out to help the community.
Traditionally, the department has hosted an annual Heroes and Helpers event at the Redlands Target store in Citrus Plaza to provide a Christmas shopping spree to about 100 children each year. Over the past several years, hundreds of children from local schools have participated in the event.
The children, nominated by school principals, teachers, police officials, and community and faith leaders, would be partnered with members of the Redlands Police Department for a sponsored shopping spree.
Children were nominated based on family need as well as demonstrations of outstanding citizenship and leadership throughout the year.
In the past, each child was given $125 to purchase items for themselves and their families.
Chaperones often returned with heartwarming stories as many of the children purchased toys as gifts for younger siblings or selected items such as deodorant, soap, socks and other basic necessities we often take for granted.
As a result of the pandemic, this year’s event has been modified and on Thursday, Dec. 17, Redlands Police Officers delivered gift cards to the homes of 63 participating children. In addition to Target, gift cards to other local, kid-friendly businesses, including Jacks Toy Shop and Board Game Paradise, were distributed.
“While we wish that we could chaperone the kids in a shopping spree and interact as usual, we are glad to have an alternative way to hold the event and help them enjoy holiday cheer,” said Redlands Chief of Police Chris Catren.
In addition, the Redlands Police Department participated last week in Blue Christmas, an alternative to the holiday block party held annually at the Redlands Community Center and the annual neighborhood parade traditionally made up of police, Fire Department and other city vehicles.
Redlands police collected toys and other gifts, which were distributed to more than 250 children nominated by various community organizations, including the Micah House, Boys & Girls Club, Community Center and other neighborhood groups.
The American Legion Post 650 and the Post 650 Auxiliary, along with additional donations from Stater Bros. and the Redlands Walmart, donated toys.