EASTLAKE, Ohio - Lacie Young strolled around a basement conference room Thursday at the Eastlake Police Department with a giant smile.
“This is amazing,” said Young, who made a promise to her 5-year-old son Luke this holiday season that Santa would come.
But Young didn’t know how she would fulfill that promise with little money and no job until she arrived at the Eastlake Police Department’s annual community Christmas event.
“He’s going to be excited,” she added. Young chose a toy helicopter, miniature cars, a coloring book, markers and mittens for Luke.
Luke is one of about 200 kids in the Cleveland-area who will receive Christmas gifts this year as part of the Department’s donation drive.
“The financial circumstances of a lot of people right now really affect how the Christmases can be for their children, and we don’t want them to be affected,” said Eastlake Police Chief Larry Reik. He added that this week alone, they received an overwhelming number of phone calls from people in need after his department posted on Facebook that they still had toys available for children.
Thursday is the last day for this year’s Christmas event. But for the past six years, the department has helped needy families by collecting monetary donations, toys and food from community residents and organizations. It promotes the event through newspaper ads, social media and word of mouth with community organizations.
“You really see how generous people are,” said Reik, who added that the department receives checks for as much as $300.
Darmenio, who didn’t want to give his last name, experienced that generosity firsthand when he arrived to pick out presents for four children in his family.
“It’s a beautiful feeling to know that someone does care,” said Darmenio who learned about the event from a mutual friend.
Darmenio chose a Razor scooter, a Nerf Firevision basketball rim, a doll and Barbie backpack for his 10, 8, 6 and 4-year-old relatives whom he cares for.
To protect the privacy of families, recipients enter the police department through a side door. Only one family is allowed into the gift room at a time and may choose up to two gifts per child and three stocking stuffers. Families also receive wrapping paper and bows.
“The main thing is that the kids get helped, and the kids have a good Christmas,” said Reik
Young said she knows her son Luke will have a merry Christmas now that she’s able to put presents under the tree, which in turn makes her holiday wish come true.
“I just want for him to be happy more than anything,” said Young.
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