History of the Program
The Christmas Basket Program began in 1961. When Christmas arrived that year, Sgt. Joe Casey recommended to his fellow officers in patrol, that they collect money that might normally be spent on exchanging Christmas cards. That money would be used to purchase food for a needy family in the city. Although the average officer made only about $262 per month, enough was collected for two families to receive one basket of food apiece.
In 1963, Joy Pike and Carolyn Edwards, both civilian employees, using their own money and donations from others, began collecting toys to be delivered with the baskets. Three families received toys; one being to a family whose child's only request was to have a Slinky. Peggy Williams later joined the "toy team" to add to its tradition. As each year went by, the program grew as the need for assistance in the community became more apparent. The baskets were delivered with a U-Haul truck and it took all Christmas Eve to complete the deliveries.
From the generosity and kindness of employees and citizens alike, the program has grown considerably. Most recently, over 500 children received toys and each of those families also received 4 baskets of food. We were also fortunate enough to give out 143 brand new bicycles. In addition to all of those happy children, we also delivered food and personal items to 62 elderly families. Santa in blue has become a lasting memorial to the caring nature of five decades of police employees.
Historical photo: Line up of baskets
Historical photo: Delivery of baskets