Tampa Police Provide Holiday ‘Back-up' at Local Wal-Mart
Sergeant Kelley Spanglo picks up a teddy bear for a little girl on her Sincerely Santa shopping list
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Tampa Police officers are giving Santa Claus a hand with his Christmas toy shopping list again this year. Several police employees responded to a Wal-Mart on Tuesday morning to provide back-up for Jolly Old Saint Nick. Tampa Fire Rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and Hillsborough Sheriff’s personnel were also on scene at the workshop. The first responders filled shopping carts with items listed on hand-written letters to Santa from children in economically-challenged households.
This holiday shopping trip was part of the Sincerely Santa program. Each year, first responders take on the role of Santa’s elves to help spread holiday joy to children in grades kindergarten through third. In addition to shopping for gifts, police officers and firefighters load bags of toys into their emergency vehicles, and deliver them to the children’s homes before Christmas.
Last year, Sincerely Santa provided gifts for more than 6,000 students. The local nonprofit organization was founded in 1987, and the program continues to grow each year. Hillsborough County Public Schools select the schools and children for the program. Sincerely Santa collects the donations, and local first responders help make the program work. Together, they've provided such necessities as food, clothing, and eyeglasses for more than 100,000 at-risk children in Hillsborough County.