The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Austin, Tex. This weekend, hundreds of volunteers lined up for blocks waiting to pick up boxes of Christmas presents bound for 5,000 area families in need.
Operation Blue Santa, a charitable outreach program started by the Austin Police Department in 1972, allows thousands of families to experience the joy of Christmas. This year, the team of volunteers will put Christmas presents in the hands of 20,000 children. It’s not an easy feat, but everyone agrees it’s worth it.
"These are kids that might not have a holiday otherwise, might not have Christmas this year if it weren't for the generosity of this community and the volunteers that have come out here," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Janie Flores, who has been delivering with Operation Blue Santa for years, also spoke with Fox 5.
"It teaches our children a way to give back our community. We've all been really blessed and it's time to share that with others," she said.
In addition to wrapped presents for each child under the age of 14, the volunteer Santas also gift each family with a full holiday meal, complete with turkey or chicken and all the trimmings. Smiles are complimentary as well.