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Citrus Heights police convoy delivers Christmas gifts to kids, families

police, Christmas gift delivery
A screenshot from a video of Citrus Heights police delivering gifts to families, Tuesday. Video below.

Updated Dec. 23, 12:25 p.m.–
With flashing lights and sirens blaring, nearly two dozen police officers were joined by their families, community members and the mayor of Citrus Heights, to hand-deliver Christmas gifts to families in need around the city, Tuesday.

The deliveries were part of an annual police-led community effort called the Holiday Referral Program, which benefited around 30 families this year — four of whom were selected for the special drop-off’s conducted on Tuesday.

“It really sets the tone for the Christmas season,” said Mayor Jeannie Bruins, highlighting an experience dropping off gifts on Sayonara Drive. “When the mom in the house grabbed hold of me and, crying with tears in her eyes, said that we had no idea how much this meant to their family. That was the best time for everybody.”

“That was the mayor?” A surprised Christopher Garcia asked an officer after overhearing Mayor Bruins had been inside his home with the gift delivery group. He said the mayor and police had dropped off new bikes and other gifts for his family.

Garcia recalled having a shocked reaction when a line of police officers and other community members filed into his home on Pompei Court, around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The 19-year-old said his mom had told him a group of police officers were coming, but he was surprised to see such a large team arrive to drop off presents.

“It was cool. My little brothers got to see all these presents come,” Garcia said, standing next to his eight-year-old and 12-year-old siblings. “They’re pretty happy about them.”

The annual program is coordinated with the Citrus Heights Police Activities League and relies heavily on community and business donations, including a grant from Walmart, according to police. To be considered for the program, referred families must have “experienced a hardship or critical event in their life over the past year that has caused a significant change in their financial abilities,” according to a referral form.

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“At the end of the day, we’re all human beings with families,” said police spokesman Det. Wesley Herman, explaining why the Department conducts annual gift drops each December. “We come across a lot of individuals during our work that we recognize sometimes are very deserving, but may not have the means necessary to provide the kind of Christmas they want for their families.”

Citrus Heights police also host an annual “Shop with a cop” event for kids at the Auburn Boulevard Walmart. This year, more than twenty uniformed police officers grabbed a shopping cart and took 14 local students on the annual $100 gift-shopping spree on Dec. 16.

Note: See video coverage below and prior story for context: Holiday police program benefits needy Citrus Heights families

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