FOP helps families with Operation Santa Claus
By J.R. TIDWELL/ Editor
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police from Chilton County invited a select group of parents and their children to the organization’s lodge Dec. 19 in order to spread some holiday cheer with Operation Santa Claus.
The FOP collects donations throughout the year then passes out presents to families with children who would not otherwise have much, if anything, for them on Christmas.
“It makes me feel proud that we can help the community that we serve,” said local FOP chapter President Warren Garris, who works for the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office. “The FOP is made up of different law enforcement agencies. We all come together and try to help the community with some of the underprivileged kids whose parents can’t afford Christmas. It really makes us feel proud, all of us that work on it.”
This year, the FOP was able to help around 50 families representing over 100 children with its efforts.
“We have people that donate us money,” Garris said of the project’s funding. “We have a lot of businesses that donate us toys and other items for Operation Santa Claus. We go pick up the toys.”
Garris said Adient, the Chilton County EMA and Sam’s Auction Depot in Thorsby, just to name a few, help raise donations for the cause.
This year mark’s the 17th annual installment of the project.
“We want to give the community something back, so every year we do it,” Garris said. “We have hung in there this long, and we’ll keep doing it until we can’t.”
Prospective families who would like to apply for some assistance through the program can go to the Chilton County Courthouse or Chilton County Jail to pick up an application.
“The applications usually go out at the first of October,” Garris said. “They fill it out and turn it back in by the 15th of November. We pick them up and go through them. They must show their income, whether or not they’re getting food stamps, things like that. If someone knows of a needy family, they need to get in touch with that family and have them come fill out an application, and we’ll take it from there.”
Garris also said that if someone knows of a family that will not come forward to apply for the project that can “genuinely benefit” from it should let the FOP know, and they will contact the family.
“Sometimes families are a little shy about asking for stuff like this,” he said. “It’s all about helping kids at Christmastime.”
Becky Lawley said she is a grandparent raising her grandkids and was among the crowd of parents collecting gifts for her children.
“This is greatly appreciated,” she said. “We wouldn’t know what to do without (Operation Santa Claus).”