ECISD police make Christmas deliveries

Despite the economic downturn, the Ector County Independent School District Police Department delivered cars full of Christmas gifts Friday to families in need. 
This yearly event has become a nonprofit venture called “Operation Blue Santa” and the response this year has been overwhelming, a news release said. Officers and Odessa Student Crime Stoppers raised enough donations to deliver gifts to 10 families, the release said.
Given the hardships faced in the Odessa community this year, Lt. Jeff Daniels said the department wanted to do more.
“… One of the programs that’s available to law enforcement is the Blue Santa program, so we incorporated that into our donation drive. Typically, we keep this program within the school district and employees — just strictly employees — donate to assist families. But with the Blue Santa program, we reached out in the community for community partners … and we had an overwhelming response; our biggest year yet. We were able to raise about $8,500 and we supported 10 families and a total of 26 ECISD students,” Daniels said.
ECISD police delivered gifts to three families Thursday from the myriad of gifts at the police department.
Officers and officers dressed in blue Santa suits split up to deliver the gifts. At the first stop Friday, no one was home and at the second was a young woman with a nearly 2-month-old baby.
Plans are to reach out to the first family and make arrangements to deliver the gifts.
Families are chosen by the counseling department and Student Crime Stoppers did the shopping. It took four or five days to gather all the gifts.
“Then we have officers who volunteered to come in and sort through everything and wrap it and make sure everything was in a presentable manner for the students,” Daniels said.
If there was anything on the list that was missed, they went back out to get it.
Officers Matt Gonzales and Lucas Mesa were the Blue Santas.
“I was excited about it …,” Gonzales said of being a Blue Santa. "I was willing and I was gung-ho. I wanted to do it; try something different to help with the fundraising for the kids. …”
Mesa was also enthusiastic.
“I love it. It’s a blast; anything to help out our community,” Mesa said.
A group of Student Crime Stoppers who volunteered to help with shopping and deliveries said they were glad to do their part.
“It was very interesting. It was really nice to go and shop for them actually because you could just pick whatever,” said Viviana Mota, a 16-year-old Odessa High School sophomore.
Cooper Aranda, a 14-year-old OHS freshman, said it was fun “just knowing that we’re getting stuff for families that really need it.”
Martha Galindo, a 16-year-old OHS student and mother of a 2-month-old daughter, said she was thankful for the gifts that she and her family received. She has two brothers and two sisters.
“I’m very thankful for the help that we’re getting and I’m thankful for the gifts that they’re giving us,” Galindo said.