CRESTVIEW — Harry Potter had the sorting hat. Members of the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni group had Community Services Officers Wanda Hulion and Sam Kimmons to help prepare for the Dec. 20 Cops For Kids gift distribution.
Thanks to a big turnout, the job was done in less than an hour, with the Whitehurst Municipal Building vehicle bay turned into a sort of Santa’s workshop production line. While some volunteers sorted and struck out barcodes, others repacked toys purchased Dec. 15 for the annual giveaway.
Wednesday, 97 families in need received presents destined to go under Christmas trees for 234 children.
"This was such a big relief," said one mother of several youngsters who wished not to be identified. "We just moved to Crestview and are still getting set up. The kids wouldn’t have had a Christmas without this (program)."
Some families whose applications had been accepted for the program were already waiting at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday to pick up their black lawn-and-leaf bags filled with toys, Hulion said.
"One lady who works up the street picked up her sack before going to work at 8 a.m.," she said. "I saw her going up Stillwell with the sack over her shoulder like Santa Claus."
After repacking the bags, the CCPAA volunteers laid them out in alphabetical order on the floor of Warriors Hall. As a volunteer or officer checked participants’ IDs, another fetched their bags up to the lobby for them.
"Our thanks to all who helped, including generous members of the community who donated money and new, unwrapped toys," Kimmons said. "I think this was our biggest year ever."