Cops For Kids toy distribution program serves local families in need during the holiday season.

CRESTVIEW — Santa’s elves work throughout the community, and each has a generous heart, Crestview Police Community Services officers discover during the annual Cops For Kids toy distribution program for local families in need.

Tuesday morning, Officers Wanda Hulion and Sam Kimmons accepted two cartons and several bags packed with new toys from Yvonne Shanklin, a Crestview Edward Jones financial adviser.

“It’s for the kids,” Shanklin said as the officers loaded up her gifts. “I have a big heart for the kids.”

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Then Wednesday morning, Allen Turner, owner of the Allen Turner Chevrolet dealership in Crestview, presented his employees’ gift to the program: a whopping $15,367, exceeding last year’s $6,650 and 2015’s $6,500 combined.

The employees raised the money through a voluntary paycheck withholding program that supports a local community charity of the workers’ selection. Their total is then matched dollar-for-dollar by Turner’s corporate office.

“When you wake up Christmas morning, you know there’s some kid in Crestview whose parents don’t have any money but he’s going to have gifts, and he’s going to have the same smile on his face that you had when you were four years old, and he’s going to have that because of your generosity,” Turner told his employees who assembled in front of the dealership for the presentation.

“It feels great doing this!” said Jessy Stancher, a vehicle salesman who participated in the fundraiser. “I live by myself so I don’t do much for Christmas, but knowing some kids are having a good Christmas because of something I did is a great feeling.”

“This gift enables us to help hundreds of children,” Police Chief Tony Taylor told the Chevy employees. “We appreciate it very much. We couldn’t do this (program) without you.”

Kimmons said this year’s applications for assistance through Cops For Kids have already surpassed the average number received in past years. At the pace applications are coming in, the program is likely to serve more than double last year’s 135 kids who benefited from it. Sixteen applications were received Tuesday alone.

“One of them has five kids, and we’ve seen many like that,” Kimmons said. “With the generous donation from the employees of Allen Turner Chevrolet, it helps relieve the stress of making sure we can serve all of the families who have applied for help from our department."

Cops For Kids, like other Police Department community fundraising efforts, is administered by the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni, a non-profit 501(c)3 program that partners with and supports the agency. CCPAA vice president Ed Corbett was on hand for the Turner check presentation.

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