FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. - Public service officers of all levels Wednesday got in the giving mood -- helping families get a Christmas they wouldn't have otherwise.
The charitable mood started in the morning in Caruthers. A group made up of Fresno correctional officers, Caruthers residents and other volunteers dropped off Christmas presents to needy families who can't afford them.
Jose Perez, a correctional officer, has been doing this for the last six years.
"We started off with five families, approximately ten to 15 kids. Now, we're at over a hundred kids," Perez said.
Perez and many of the volunteers do it year-after-year. All knowing first-hand how hard it can be around the holidays.
"I used to be one of these kids," said Perez. "Now that I'm doing good and I'm able to give back, [it's] just amazing."
Families helped by the Marjaree Mason Center also got in on an early Christmas. The Fresno Deputy Sheriffs Association not only got Saint Nick to make an appearance, but also brought new toys for all the kids.
"It's giving them the Christmas that they're hearing about at school," said the center's executive director, Nicole Linder. "The holiday that they're expecting. They get to be not forgotten through this special effort."
Using money raised from a basketball game months ago, Fresno Police officers in the southwest policing district brought kids in the area more fun at their community centers. Stopping at six of them, they brought things ranging from a PS4 to a popcorn making machine.
Besides strengthening the police-community bond, it helps keep kids on the right path, according to Capt. Mark Salazar. Salazar serves at the district commander for the southwest policing district.
"The youth need it," he said. "We have youth that tell you this, 'We need to stay busy.' Our community centers is one way of staying busy."
These organizations always need help during this time. You can contact Eulalio Gomez, the president of the Fresno County Public Safety Association, at 559-681-3384 to ask about the donations in Caruthers. Perez said 'big plans' are in store for next year.
Linder said the center always is in need of things like bedding, pillows and bath towels to help the families who seek shelter with them. You can also just donate to them directly.