Ocean Springs Police become Santa for a night - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs Police become Santa for a night

Ocean Springs Police officers pack bags of toys to deliver on Christmas Eve. Ocean Springs Police officers pack bags of toys to deliver on Christmas Eve.

Here's a story about the kind of community policing that everyone can appreciate. The Ocean Springs Police Department played Santa Claus Christmas Eve to 25 families, and officers say the month-long effort is providing more than one-time gifts.

Five-year patrolman Van Garrard has been looking forward to this moment since last year when he started the program. “The world is a rough place right now,” he said. “And if you want to see a positive change in your community, you have to be that change. And the more people that are positive and help other people out the better your community will be that you live in.”

And, it was equally important enough for 10 off-duty officers to spend time away from family - or even involve them - to help save Christmas for about 40 children ages three weeks to 15 years.

Gifts were donated by residents and businesses. The 33 bikes were provided courtesy of last weekend's bike drive program coordinated by businessmen Mike Davis, Tim Wold and Kris Kwitzky.

The police department worked with the Ocean Springs School District to develop the list of families.

Steven Capobianco is facing hard times. But, despite that, his children Steven and Natalie had a surprise Christmas morning, including a brand new bike. “It's a blessing and a miracle because we didn't know how we were going to get for them this year,” he said. “I'm disabled and haven't worked in four years.”

Marie Blackbourn thought it was too late to make Christmas that magical moment for her 3-year-old great-granddaughter. The family missed signing her up with the Angel tree program, but the law was on their side. “It means everything, because she didn't have anything.” Blackbourn said. “She had no Christmas whatsoever. And this is a miracle.”

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