Lance's Journal: Santa Cop Smiles, Dec. 21

This year the Santa Cop Program will provide toys for 9,000 kids in the Capital City. The Lincoln Police Department has been involved with giving gifts to Lincoln residents since 1980.

It has grown and grown over the past 30 years and today, the program is larger and more important than ever. In many ways, this particular outpouring of time, energy and presents is what Lincoln, Nebraska is all about.

Michelle Landolt was grateful for the gifts, "I think the dedication in Lincoln is overwhelming it's just a lot of people don't know about."

But one person that knows all about the Capital City's capacity for caring is LPD Officer Cas Briggs, "This is my life from August until January this is what I spend all of my weekend and evenings and my vacation time doing."

Officer Briggs has been involved with the Santa Cop for the past 13 years and is now the program president, "It's amazing, I mean you go through the days where you're exhausted, you're tired and then we get to that first week in December when we get to go buy the toys."

That's when Officer Briggs and her crew goes out to Wal-mart south and loads a semi truck full of gifts, "Now it's distribution time and you can see by the families here today these people need this, they'll wait 4 and 5 hours for one toy for their child for Christmas and that's why I do it."

Lincoln's Center for People in Need helps facilitate the Santa Cop Program. Deb Daily is the Director of Operations for the Center and she says, "To see the smiles on the parents faces as they receive those toys for their children or the parent that's crying because they would not have anything for their children if it wasn't for the Toyland for Kids program."

Charity auctioneer Jan Kaufman says the Santa Cop process is both heart wrenching and heart warming, "They can make a choice of one item per child and it's a very big decision for them to make and you can see they almost have tears in their eyes and sometimes they want a certain item and they can't find it and yesterday we were finding the item for them and that really get's to you when you see the happiness in their hearts and their eyes."

Jan says that in the past 20 years they have raised almost a half a million dollars for the Santa Cop Program. And they are still in need this year...If you would like to donate money or gifts you are invited to visit the Center for People in Need at 3901 North 27th Street in Lincoln or contact the Lincoln Police Department at 441-7204.

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