Law Enforcement and Firemen Deliver Holiday Gifts in Palmer Program
"Santa Cops and Heroes" helps elderly
PALMER - A little wrapping paper and a bright bow can go a long way. Donna Anthony, a retired Palmer police officer, knows the power presents can hold, especially for people who are alone for the holidays.
That’s why she started the “Santa Cops and Heroes” program, but don’t ask her to tell you about it. “That's an emotional question. I think if you were in our position in law enforcement when you go to these calls…” she trailed off as tears filled her eyes. “I can't even talk about it.”
The program is run with the help of the Mat-Su Senior Services Center in Palmer. It’s made a difference for hundreds of seniors, like Evalyn Mattie, who got a special knock on the door last Christmas.
“Oh, let me tell you what happened,” she said as her eyes lit with joy. “I had a handsome trooper come by,” she laughed.
Troopers, cops and firefighters deliver gifts seniors sign up for ahead of time. There are no extravagant requests on those lists though. For most it’s just a hat or some firewood because what many of them really want is just someone to talk to.
“It was overwhelming, really. It was overwhelming. It made my day, my week, my holiday,” said Mattie.
But Santa Cops and Heroes isn’t just about giving gifts; it’s about helping neighbors in need.
“It just really brings you down to what Christmas is all about, and that's love,” said Sergeant Michelyn Manrique with the Alaska State Troopers.
On a chilly afternoon she heads to Houston for a welfare check. A neighbor referred Michael Kennedy to the program when he was in danger of losing his home.
“They cut off my social security to see if I applied for veteran's benefits, and until I can prove that I don't apply for veteran's benefits I can't get social security either. So they paid my rent. Otherwise I'd be living out here in the snow,” said Kennedy. “The other day it was down to 20 below.”
Troopers like Sergeant Manrique are there to make sure seniors like Kennedy don’t fall through the cracks and many will be back Christmas Day with a Santa-sized sack of gifts.