Santa Cop program returning to Portales

File photo The Portales Police Department’s annual Santa Cop event will be happening 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Memorial Building in Portales. The event has been taking place since 1998.

File photo
The Portales Police Department’s annual Santa Cop event will be happening 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Memorial Building in Portales. The event has been taking place since 1998.

STAFF REPORT

PORTALES — During the holiday season, there is an 18-year-old tradition that takes place in Portales each year that never seems to fail to put smiles on the faces of a few hundred residents.

And that’s the Portales Police Department’s Santa Cop event, which provides toys to between 300 and 400 Roosevelt County children in need each year for Christmas.

“We just live in a wonderful, giving community,” said PPD Detective Charlie Smart. “The people here are great. It warms our hearts as officers to do something good with our community and to see happiness in our line of work.”

Smart said the program began in 1998 and since he became part of it in 2001, he has watched participation grow more and more each year with the program raising up to $7,000 in some years.

“Last year, we served over 300 families, and we raised $3,000, but we’ve raised up to $7,000,” Smart said. “Last year, the economy was a little tougher, but we’re not going to let that discourage us. We’ve already got fundraiser ideas for next year.”

Program coordinators have had to make some changes the last few years due to growth, such as moving the location of the event from the police department to the Memorial Building.

“Participation has sky rocketed over the years,” Smart said. “Because it’s changed so much, we’ve had to change it up some to facilitate it.”

The Santa Cop event to hand out toys to children will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Portales Memorial Building and will include snacks, drink, cookies and a goodie bag for the children, along with their gift from Santa.

Smart said Myriam Pallares, administrative assistant at the PPD, is the master mind behind the event.

“She makes everything happen,” he said. “She is just wonderful with that kind of stuff.”

The police department will hold a toy drive for the event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Portales Walmart.

Toy drop off locations are The Office Center, the Portales Dance Academy, Aaron’s Rentals, Mark’s Restaurant & Catering and the police department.

Children can be registered for the event at the police department through Dec. 5.

“We won’t turn anyone away,” said Smart. “We just put that Dec. 5 date, so we have an idea of a head count. If somebody shows up with their kids, we’re gonna take them and get them a toy.”

Gifts for the event are for children under 18, who are accompanied by a parent, he said.

The following are what participants have said about the Santa Cop program in previous years:

• Myriam Pallares, administrative assistant at the PPD in 2015: “The biggest joy is seeing the children’s joy when they get to see Santa and get to receive a gift from him. I think everyone should get to experience that. But you also get to see the community come together.”

• Mayor Sharon King in 2014: “It’s wonderful. It gives Christmas to a lot of kids that may not have it otherwise.”

• Samantha Aranda, grandparent of gift recipients in 2013: “It is a really great event the community hosts.”

• Sharon Martinez, mother of gift recipients, in 2012: “We’re like so many other families; times are hard. I’m happy they are getting presents, and I wanted to get them (her daughters) out of the house.”