EMPORIA, Va. -- Santa's helpers wore blue in Emporia Tuesday afternoon, as police officers used their cruisers instead of a sleigh to deliver presents.
Nearly two dozen families were treated to Christmas complete with presents, a large turkey, and all the fixings.
Every year Emporia officers who want to wear facial hair must donate $20 a month to the department's charity fund. This year, the pandemic prompted the police chief to use those donations to buy presents and a Christmas meal for families in need.
The officers bought and wrapped the gifts.
"Anybody can give to charity and whatnot, but to actually interact with the community, to see the smile on the kids' faces when you give them the presents," Officer Williams said. "To see the thankfulness from the parents when they receive these gifts. You can't get any more personal than dealing directly with members of the community saying, 'hey, we have your back."
It has been a tough year for law enforcement officers, but Emporia officers said giving back to the community is an important part of their job.
"I had no interaction with any police officer growing up, so no clue how they were," Officer Gillam said. "If I can go out and make a positive influence for me being a police officer. I'll do it any day of the week."
While the officers enjoyed buying and wrapping the presents, handing out the gifts while in uniform gave them the most satisfaction and they hope showed the community they really do care.
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