ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A year’s worth of work for Operation Blue Santa came together Friday morning in Round Rock.
“They’re volunteers from the city, city workers, parks and recreation, city directors,” explains Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks. “We have a lot of people that are out just trying to give someone a great Christmas.”
Dozens of volunteers formed a sort of toy assembly line to deliver hundreds of gifts, but fewer people are taking advantage of the Santa surprise.
In 2016, Round Rock PD served 383 families — down from the 345 families they served this year. Fewer seniors also signed up this year, just 78 compared to the 119 seniors in 2016.
“We look at a couple of things, one is that they’re taking advantage of other charitable events to help them,” said Chief Banks. “And the other thing is, maybe they don’t need it, we don’t have as many families that need the assistance this year and that is always our hope.”
But until the day where there’s no need, the police department will continue to deliver Blue Santa gifts, like the box they dropped off to Cristina Vasquez to help her son and two nephews.
“It was a lot of help,” said Vasquez.
“Once we deliver it and we see that smile, our job is done,” said Chief Banks joyfully.
This is the first year Round Rock PD collected gifts and food for family pets as well.
Numbers among some other local Blue Santa programs are also down slightly. Cedar Park police served 127 families in 2016 and this year 103 families signed up. Georgetown PD served 576 families last year and, so far this year, 533 have enrolled.
The Leander Police Department expects to serve the same as last year, about 600 families. Austin PD says they think they’ll serve about 6,000 households again this year, as they did in 2016.