OKLAHOMA CITY – Each year, law enforcement trade in their patrol cars for shopping carts to donate their time and money to fill Christmas wishlists for children being raised by their grandparents.
The annual program benefiting “grandfamilies” is a partnership between Sunbeam Family Services, local law enforcement agencies and volunteers from Triad, a program that aims to protect seniors from crime.
Wilma Newton is a retired Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher.
She’s grabbing a list and cart for the third year in row.
“Working in the school system, a lot of grandparents were raising their kids, so I know the struggles they had, so I want to ease that my little way,” she said.
Many of the families are financially strapped.
This is one way the brave men and women can help bring joy to a bunch of kids dealt a tough hand in life.
Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow with the Oklahoma City Police Department is shopping for kids ranging in ages 9 to 14.
“They want fidget spinners,” she said. “The little girl wants knee-high boots [and] the boy wants play station games, basketball.”
The gifts are on their way to deserving homes.
One set of grandparents is raising 13 grandchildren.
You can imagine the burden they’re carrying, often times sacrificing their own health and well-being.
“This is literally enabling seniors to get those medications they need, to get hearing aid batteries, things they needy they will do without to raise these kids,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Triad Coordinator Corporal Kim Lopez.
The kids won’t be going without this Christmas.
Oklahoma City Police’s Triad Coordinator Sheryl Presley is again helping coordinate the effort.
“I have to brag on my police family,” she said. “Last year, they gave over $5,000 out of their own pockets to support this program.”
Ensuring hundreds of “grandfamilies” wake up with presents under the tree.
Grandparents raising grandchildren have until November 2 to fill out an application for Christmas assistance with Sunbeam Family Services.