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‘Santa Cops’ program spreads joy among local children

A+collection+of+toys+and+games+donated+to+the+Santa+Cops+program.
A collection of toys and games donated to the Santa Cops program.

A collection of toys and games donated to the Santa Cops program.

Susan Gray

Susan Gray

A collection of toys and games donated to the Santa Cops program.

Nandika Mansingka, Voice Editor

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On Christmas morning, a child wakes up to a surprise they could never have imagined.

Wrapped boxes, filled with the toys he or she has wanted for the longest time, scatter the floor. In those fleeting moments, wrestling with the ribbons and scrambling to open gifts, hardships disappear, and they thank Santa Claus with their hearts full and their eyes bright.

Little do they know, their Santa is an AP Chemistry teacher and her students, only a few miles away. Mrs. Gray is an avid supporter and participant of Santa Cops, a program sponsored by the Katy ISD police department. Needy families with a hard time providing gifts for their children can submit their names to the police department and they will in turn ask the community for donations.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life” Mrs. Gray said. “I haven’t really suffered many hardships, and so whenever there’s an opportunity for me to do something like this, I like to try to jump in, even if it’s just one child.”

Gray runs her Santa Cops game plan differently, though. She likes to involve her students by asking them to lend a hand and donate money to a collective Santa Cops fund, but they are not obliged to. On the week before gifts are due, students can meet her at Target and go shopping for gifts with her.

“I really do this to bring the students together for a good cause,” Mrs. Gray said. “I like the idea that we’re helping somebody who might not have a good holiday, and at the same time we’re team building and having a good time.”

This year, the AP Chemistry students raised $110 for one child, and were able to buy over 6 gifts, including a Nerf gun, two sweatshirts, a Connect 4 board game, and other entertaining items.

“It’s always fun,” Mrs. Gray said. “My students are always doing something to crack me up. Every year is a different experience, and this year they took charge which is really nice. They made all the decisions, and it’s really great to have a student’s perspective on what to buy.”

If people want to participate, all they have to do is go to the police department, and they are given a child living within Katy ISD for whom to buy gifts.

“I really like that it’s local,” Mrs. Gray said. “We’re helping students in our own district, and it really appeals to me to help people close to home.”

The only information that is given to the donors is the child’s assigned number, grade, and what school they go to, as well as a list of the things they like and dislike. Once people are ready to drop off, they can write the child’s number on a bag with gifts, and turn it into the police department.

“The best part is that this entire experience is anonymous,” Mrs. Gray said. “That is probably one of the true definitions of charity. You give and don’t expect anything in return.”

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