The Katy ISD Police Department's holiday donation program grows in wake of Harvey.
In a year that’s brought struggles to many the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Katy ISD Police Department’s Santa Cops Program.
KATY MAGAZINE | December 2017
By Natalie Cook Clark
All schools in Katy ISD have the option to participate in Santa Cops. Those who opt out only do so because they many have a similar program. The school counselors identify students whose families are going through hard times, and these students may not receive Christmas gifts otherwise. Their parents are notified so they can turn in wishlists, clothing size, etc. The Katy ISD Police Department gathers all the information and then matches students to sponsors that help bring some holiday magic to those who need it.
Sponsors range from individuals, civic groups, church organizations, businesses, and other groups that request to sponsor a child or children. Landry's was a big sponsor this year, taking on 163 kids.
Rooms overflowing with gift donations
The police department stores all of the gifts and sorts everything out. This year the holiday joy has overflown the department conference rooms. The department also takes on the organizational task of ensuring that all identified students receive gifts and that sibling recipients receive gifts of equal value. While in the past they have delivered the gifts while wearing a Santa costume, the program has grown so much that now the department hosts a pick up party.
The program grew in response to Harvey
When so many people’s lives were turned upside down by Harvey many programs stepped up to help. The Katy community gave tremendously. “I was worried this year that because of Harvey, people would feel tapped out when it came to giving but the schools said that the need was more than ever,” explained police specialist Elizabeth Loocke. This year the program started with 500 students and grew to help close to 900 thanks to the many sponsors. Chief Jinks held no restrictions and allowed the program to take on as many students as there were sponsors to help. Some schools that weren’t as affected by Harvey offered to give up their slots so more Harvey victims could be reached.
“The counselors are essential in identifying those students we need to be reaching,” says Loocke. Santa Cops has been bringing holiday joy to students since 2002, when the Explorer program saw the need during the holidays. That year, they served just 30 students and Santa Cops' reach has doubled every year since it's inception. The police department started taking in sponsors to help them meet the needs of children in Katy. Last year, Santa Cops reached over 650 students in Katy ISD, who otherwise may not have had a Christmas at all.
Police officers getting involved in the community they serve
The Katy ISD police officers are seen enforcing the laws and patrolling our schools their management of such a program gives them a chance to give back and deliver joy to those who deserve and need it. “This is a wonderful program and it’s nice to see the entire department get involved each year,” said Officer Robert Jinks, ISD Chief of Police.