Some of Santa's helpers delivered gifts to boys and girls in Athens today.
Those helpers just happened to be officers with the Athens Police Department.
“Some people are scared of cops and think that they’re bad guys when, in reality, they’re just here to help us and make sure that we’re safe and to be nice to the children," said Kaitlin Vansplinter, whose children were some of those who were visited by the officers.
The Christmas Cops gave toys away while also building better relationships within the community.
“They just need to know, when they see us, not to be afraid, and if they do need help, we’re always there. Come run to us," said Officer Bobby Hand with the Athens Police Department.
Officer Hand says he doesn't mind working on Christmas when he's putting toys in hands, instead of hands in cuffs.
And he may be the one giving the presents, but he's getting the gift of seeing kids' faces light up like Christmas trees.
“Just seeing a kid smile. Looking back when you were a child, and just the enjoyment of getting a present, you know, it could be anything. Just seeing how they’ll be grateful to get something," Officer Hand said.
And the families receiving the gifts? Well, they're full of Christmas cheer.
“Us being able to have help from the police, it makes us feel even more special, because we know that our siblings are being blessed by lives who are also serving us," said Shyanne Hunter, who has nine siblings and whose sisters were given gifts by the officers.
She says the help her family is getting from police means the world to them.
“We’ve had a rough Christmas this year and we’ve been extremely blessed," Hunter said.
Vansplinter says she's thankful for the Christmas Cops and the childhood memories that her children will now have for a lifetime.
“Seeing them hand out presents to the kids just puts a good impression for the kids and, hopefully, they’ll grow up to know that they’re here to keep us safe," Vansplinter said.
Officer Hand says, Santa Claus or not, he'll continue to show children in Athens that he's their buddy year-round.
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