Christmas Cops is a program created and operated by the Plano Police employees and their families to assist Plano families in need during the Christmas Season. Throughout the year, Officers come in contact with families in need. However, during the Christmas Season, the need is often much more profound.
The families assisted by Christmas Cops are known to and referred by Plano Police employees. These families' needs are then verified by the Christmas Cops Committee. Officers place collection boxes at numerous local businesses to collect toys, food, new coats, and other household necessities to help these families.
Police Officers and their Santa Claus Helpers then deliver the collected items to the selected families shortly before Christmas. This program has been a tremendous source of emergency assistance to hundreds of families over the last 30 years, and with your help we will continue to help local families in need.
The Christmas Cops program was created in 1984 by a handful of compassionate Officers who saw a tremendous need to assist some families during the Holiday Season. Officers D. Burney, R. Burton, M. Allen, L. Beins-Cosper, C. Norton, and T. Koons were the Officers who initiated the program. Officer Burton was the Chairman of the program from 1984-1988 and Officer Burney chaired the program from 1988 to 2001. Since that time, members of the Christmas Cops committee has provided guidance to the growing program.
The Officers began to collect toys, food, and other necessities that would be delivered to Plano families in need during the Christmas Season by Plano Police employees. They placed collection boxes in various local businesses asking those more fortunate to donate a toy or canned food item to help others in need. Then, they collected these items, sorted them to match the toy to the appropriate child, and delivered the items to the families on Christmas Eve before they returned to their own homes to enjoy Christmas with their families.
In 1984, the year of its inception. Christmas Cops assisted fifteen families with food, toys, and clothing. The number of families served and the amounts of items delivered have continued to increase year after year. These families received two or three months worth of food, several toys for each child, and often coats to keep them warm during the winters. This tradition has continued throughout the years, providing families with staples of canned foods, flour, sugar, potatoes, and other healthy food items to help them through the entire holiday season.
Initially, Christmas Cops received the names of families they helped from an outside assistance referral organization. The Officers just wanted to help people in need, so they were given a list of families who were requesting toys and food. However, during some of the first years, Officers delivered boxes of toys and food to families who were being served by other (and sometimes many other) charitable organizations and it was evident that some families were not quite as "needy" as they represented themselves. There was no system in place to ensure that all of the items collected went to families who were actually in dire need. Thus, the Christmas Cops Officers wanted to be more involved in the selection of families they were serving. They began seeking referrals directly from Patrol Officers for names of families who were in need and whom had come in contact with a Plano Police Officer under police related circumstances. Since Officers are often in contact with people who are victims of crimes or are struggling through particularly difficult times, this allowed Officers to help make a positive difference with these families and to increase the positive relationships with citizens and the Plano Police Department. Officers have submitted families whom they have met during investigations of burglary, theft, family disturbances, traffic stops, and other typical calls for service for which Police Officers are called. Officers also refer families that they have just met during their work days and know that these families could use some assistance during this time. The Officers enjoy being able to make direct referrals to this program because they know that the items collected by our program will go to families who are both in need and are deserving of these gifts. Officers enjoy knowing that because of their contact with a family, often under very distressing circumstances, they have actually been able to brighten Christmas and the entire Holiday Season for their families. For years, Christmas Cops has continued to help families who were participating in the other assistance referral programs because they were able to collect more than enough toys to help the families referred by Officers, as well as additional families. But recently, Christmas Cops has adopted an "Officer Referral Only" policy due to the numbers of families referred to the program by Plano Officers. Officers have realized that there are so many more local families in need than previously recognized. These circumstances may come about due to economic lows that lead to employment lay-offs and related hardships, death or catastrophic illness in the family, automobile or work accident, and other tragic circumstances that may cause an otherwise financially healthy family to suffer tremendous hardship, which is especially difficult during the Holiday Season. In the early years, Christmas Cops used the old United National Bank building on West Parker Road as a collection and distribution site. Then, in 1990, Officer Cindy Bennett's parents offered the use of their barn for the program. The Bennett's Barn became synonymous with Christmas Cops to Plano Officers. We used the Bennet's Barn as a collection and distribution site until the 2000 season when the program simply outgrew the location. For the 2001 season, Mr. John Roach Jr. graciously allowed Christmas Cops to use his law office for our program. Christmas Cops is housed year round in a Plano business that has donated space, utilities, equipment, and other support to our program. This generous donation has allowed the program to grown and serve many families each year. We are very grateful to the Bennett's and to Mr. Roach for their generous support of our program, for without their assistance, our program would not have been able to survive. In 2008, Christmas Cops was able to serve over 300 families which included more than 650 children. Officers and their families delivered thousands of boxes of food, toys, clothes, and blankets to these families all over the city of Plano. Since the early years, the number of Officers and friends of Christmas Cops has increased dramatically, as have the number of families served and businesses who support our program. We hope to continue to help the deserving families in Plano for many years to come.