CUSTER COUNTY—Santa Claus is coming to town! Well, in a way. It is time for the annual Santa Cop event in which local law enforcement officers deliver Christmas toys and clothing to Custer County kids in need, who might not otherwise receive Christmas gifts.
The Santa Cop program began with the help of the Nebraska State Patrol back in 2004.
“Santa Cop was started in 2004 as the brainchild of Lt. Kirk Hansel from the Nebraska State Patrol. He had seen other state troopers do similar projects where they would get funds together, go out and get gifts for kids, and then the officers themselves would deliver them to the kids. And so it got kicked off that year and it’s been going ever since,” Salvation Army Secretary Carol Allen said.
Secretary of the Custer County Salvation Army Chapter Carol Allen said the program continues to grow. Ninety-eight children received gifts in 2010 and that number grew to 163 children in 2016.
Letters have recently been sent out to families who participated last year. Any families in need of extra assistance this holiday season can visit the police station in Broken Bow to fill out an application. Applications are due November 20.
“We just ask if it’s a boy or girl and their age and get some gift ideas. And we try and purchase as close as we can to what they want,” Salvation Army Chairman Julie Toline said.
Chairman Julie Toline encourages families to complete applications by November 20 in order to avoid last minute shopping.
The primary fundraiser for this event is the Santa Cop Lunch this Sunday, November 12 from 12 to 2 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Parish Center (1407 South E Street (west Highway 2) in Broken Bow).
A free will offering will be taken during the lunch. The menu includes homemade Jambalaya, chicken noodle, and chili soup; Subway sandwiches, desserts, and drinks. The annual lunch fundraiser began in 2006 with the help of the Knights of Columbus and a Sunday school class. $385 was raised that year. Last year, $2,359 was raised to help celebrate the holiday season in Custer County.
Anyone interested in donating to the program can mail checks to Julie Toline at 116 S 11th Ave, Broken Bow, NE 68822. Please make checks payable to SANTA COP.