ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Santa Claus is known for his classic red suit, but for some kids in Abilene, they met a Santa wearing a blue suit. It is all part of the Abilene Police Department ‘Operation Blue Santa.’ The program takes kids in need from kindergarten through third grade who are nominated by a teacher or school counselor to go shopping for Christmas at Walmart alongside an APD officer.
Isabella was one of those lucky kids this year. She was able to check off some items from her holiday list like clothes, shoes, and of course, toys. While browsing through the isles alongside Marti Woodard, APD detective, Isabella grabbed toys for herself and for her two younger sisters.
“They not only get to pick out gifts for themselves, but they are also looking for gifts for their family members and so it’s so much fun to see them light up when they find the gift they want to give to their sibling or their mom,” Woodard shared.
Deanna Reyes, Isabella’s grandmother, said the family was surprised when they found out Isabella was nominated, but took it as a blessing in disguise.
“Bella’s family is kind of struggling a little bit – just a little bit not too bad – but things keep happening right now for them, but this came perfect. It was a blessing,” Reyes expressed.
At the end of the shopping spree, Isabella went home with a cart full of items to have a perfect Christmas with her family. Reyes shared Isabella is known for being a bit shy, but is happy she opened up and made a new friend at APD with Detective Woodard.
“It encourages the kids to know that the officers are here for the community, not only to protect them, but to help,” Reyes said.
Isabella’s family is one of over 450 families who benefited from Operation Blue Santa. The program, created in 2015, has wrapped over 5,600 gifts and given 625 Christmas meals.