Operation Santa Cop toy drive in full swing

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Kim Terry and Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department add donations from the Portales High School National Honor Society to a pile of toys for the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree: Operation Santa Cop toy drive on Thursday. The honor society contributes every year, and provided 77 toys this year.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

An electric toy guitar … a couple of Barbie dolls … Play Dough.

That and more came out of black trash bags as Portales Police Department staff unloaded Mayor’s Christmas Tree: Operation Santa Cop toy drive donations from the Portales High School National Honor Society.

The group presented officers with the toys Thursday at the high school.

Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry said Honor Society members have contributed almost every year since the beginning of the toy drive 11 years ago.

“That’s one group I can always count on every year that they’re going to come through with a pretty good donation for us,” he said.

Berry said the organization provides a variety of toys.

“Without groups like that, this program could never work; we could never do it,” he said.

This year, each of the 77 honor society members contributed one toy, said group president and PHS senior Kaitlyn Stratton. She said she thought the majority of members voted for the effort as one of their two yearly service projects because it helps the people in their community.

Senior Shawn Carrasco, honor society vice president, said donating to the toy drive is a tradition.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I think it helps the community a lot.”

As for Operation Santa Cop, names are still being added to the list. But Berry said he expects to serve close to 800 children this year, compared to 702 last year. The drive took in a lot of names before Thanksgiving, a rare occurrence, he said.

Berry said Portales National Bank is holding a food drive to help Operation Santa Cop families who also need more to eat, and the Portales Junior High cheerleaders and student council are set to help sort toys when the pile grows.

“With snow on the ground, it’s like Christmas now,” Berry said Thursday.

What: Special toy collection

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 13

Where: Wal-Mart, Portales

Ongoing toy drop locations:

• Portales City Hall, 100 W. First St.

• Portales Police Department, 1700 N. Boston Ave.

• Portales Senior Center, 421 N. Industrial Dr.

• Hestand’s Floral and Gifts, 813 W. Second St.

• Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, 100 S. Ave. A