CRESTVIEW — Before the Crestview Police Department’s Community Services officers turned their focus toward their next major project — the annual Citizens Police Academy, which begins Feb. 6 — there was one more Cops For Kids component to complete: the annual Toy Run.
"This is one of our favorite things," Ofc. Sam Kimmons said with a broad grin as he hopped into his pick-up truck and slowly cruised out of the Whitehurst Municipal Building vehicle bay with a trailer laden with toys attached to the hitch.
Kimmons and his partner, Ofc. Wanda Hulion, Police Auxiliary Sgt. Al Humphrey and a squad of festively attired Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni members headed to public housing neighborhoods, arriving shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday with blue lights flashing and sirens wailing.
Sleepy-eyed children, parents, grandparents, guardians and at least one big, curious dog looked uncertainly out of their doors, then recognizing the officers and their cargo, trotted excitedly up to choose a toy or two out of the trailer.
The toys came from a variety of sources, including donations, toys left over from the annual Cops For Kids giveaways, or those purchased with donated money. The officers reported for duty on their day off to continue a tradition started as long as 20 years ago by Crestview cops who have since retired or died.
The Toy Run capped Cops For Kids’ biggest year ever in cash donations — which included a gift of more than $15,000 from Allen Turner Chevrolet employees — and families helped. Counting two last-minute hardship cases the officers learned about right before the Toy Run, 99 families in need with 240 children benefited from Cops For Kids. The Toy Run added about 20 more families and dozens of kids to the tally.
With the trailer thoroughly scavenged, the CCPAA members and Officers Hulion, Kimmons and Humphrey smiled with satisfaction as they returned the trailer to the police department.
With needy local families served, "Now our families’ Christmases can begin," Kimmons said.