La Salle Officer Santa program brings Christmas to kids

Program still accepting donations

Officer Santa stands on his throne in the patchy freezing fog early this morning before he delivered toys to nearly 150 La Salle children. Officer Santa, also known as a La Salle police officer Matt Kunkel, was out with other La Salle patrolman this morning delivering gifts to La Salle kids in need through donations from businesses and individuals.

As of Wednesday, 139 kids and 51 families will be receiving Christmas gifts through La Salle’s Officer Santa Program this year.

Public information officer Brent Bader said there are families that need assistance, and it’s touching to see the community come together.

“I think our community has proven time and time again that we are willing to help one another,” he said. “Especially around this time of year, when it becomes more noticeable others may need a little more assistance.”

The Officer Santa Program was established nine years ago and provides children with items such as toys, coats, shoes, pajamas and anything essential.

Families that participate in the program provide officers with lists of needs and wants. The volunteering officers then go shopping and pick out items from the list.

On Dec. 16, police officers, city employees and volunteers will load up a truck with personally wrapped gifts as Officer Santa delivers them to families throughout La Salle.

The program relies on charitable donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals to make sure the holidays are a little more jolly for those in need. Bader said the program still is accepting donations for this year’s Santa Program.

“I’m glad our police department puts this on,” he said. “And we are able to offer it to many of the families in our community that need it most.”

Anyone interested in donating to the program can make a check out to the La Salle Police Department with Officer Santa in the notes. Donations and gifts can be dropped off at the police department.