YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Christmas came early for some Youngstown families on Wednesday.
The Youngstown Police Department held its Fill-A-Cruiser toy drive a couple weeks ago. That toy drive filled six cruisers with toys.
On Wednesday, the police department, along with Santa, delivered the toys collected to families’ door steps.
It’s all part of the department’s community policing effort. Officers hope to build a relationship with children, while putting a smile on their faces.
Shawna Cie-Ott, an officer part of Youngstown Police Department’s Community Police Unit, said the cause is close to her heart.
“Being a police officer in itself is amazing in general, being able to help the community,” she said. “But especially this time of year, being able to help the families that really need it, and the kids.”
She said the drive has benefits to police officers as well.
“Hopefully this does build that bond that they can begin to trust and see us as kind people in society,” she said.
Jeremiah and Jianna got their surprise from Santa on Wednesday.
“I was really excited when I got these,” Jeremiah said. “It was amazing.”
Jeremiah’s mother passed away some time ago, and his aunt, Edna Robinson, now cares for him and his sister.
Robinson said she was grateful for the officers’ help this holiday season.
“It really makes me so happy. It makes me want to cry,” she said. “It makes me feel so special to see how happy they are and how they can smile.”
LaToya Saunders also got a visit from officers, bringing gifts for each of her three children. The children were excited to receive 101 Dalmatians toys, books and stuffed animals.
“This year has been really hard for us, and I did not expect this,” she said.
Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees said the department hopes to continue the program next year as well.