'Tis the season, when the police save Christmas

In White Plains, N.Y., local police stepped in to save a family's Christmas after their gifts were stolen. It turns out, that's not so unusual. 

(AP Photo/The Paducah Sun, John Paul Henry)
Paducah Police Department Sgt. Wes Orazine helps six-year-old Cailyn Rednour narrow down items to buy from her wish list during the 28th annual Christmas with a Cop in Paducah, Ky. on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. Fifty-nine children participated in the donation-based event, in which kids could spend $175 on toys and clothes and their parents were given $200 for groceries.

Last week, someone tried to steal Christmas from a family in White Plains, N.Y.

A thief broke into the home of the Cuenca-Orzuna family and took all the presents waiting for their four children (and three cousins).  

"I found a lot of kids crying," when he arrived at the home on Dec. 17, Detective German Lopez  told the Lohud.com Journal News. "All of the presents had been taken from under their tree. They even took their piggy banks."

The next day the Det. Lopez and his captain took up a collection among fellow officers. They collected about $750. The White Plains Police Benevolent Association matched the donation. The police delivered $1,500 in gifts, cash, and gift cards to the family on Saturday.

"To be burglarized is bad enough," police union president Robert Riley said. "To have it happen during Christmas, and to take presents away from seven kids, is a double whammy. We wanted to make sure there was a happy ending and a happy Christmas for this family. To see the smiles and their faces this morning made it all worth it." 

The generosity of the White Plains police is a counterpoint to the portrait of police drawn by the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases roiling the streets of many US cities. But most police take their role to protect and serve quite seriously, and respond quickly to the needs of their communities. Indeed, the kind of police charity exhibited by White Plains police is not as rare is some may think.

For example, Florida's Mount Dora police department sent officers out with neighborhood kids this past Saturday to shop for Christmas gifts. The 'Shop with a Cop' program pairs police officers with children and gives them $100 to shop at Target. The shopping trip is funded in Mount Dora and many other communities by Target's "Heroes & Helpers" law-enforcement community outreach program. The retailer claims to have donated more than $200,000 to some 200 communities in 2013. 

Of course, it's one thing for Target to invest in community relations. But for police officers to open their own wallets, as they did in White Plains, takes this kind of generosity to another level.

Last year at this time, there were reports of police in at least three US communities supporting families hit by pre-Christmas burglars.

In Dec. 2013, police in Tampa, Fla, bought gifts for a single mother and her two children after a theft two days before Christmas. The police used the stolen items report as their Christmas shopping list – and then they added a few more items. 

Similarly, in La Verne, Calif., Wanda Lopez came home to find the gifts under her tree stolen. "I didn't know what I was going to do for my grandkids," she told KTLA-TV.

La Verne police passed the hat and gave donated gift cards and cash to replace the items stolen from Ms. Lopez's home. The same week, another La Verne resident, Regan George reported that a thief had smashed his car window and stolen the presents inside. The LaVerne police stepped up to replace those gifts as well.

Finally, a family in Norman, Okla., came home Christmas Eve in 2013 to find their home looted of gifts. But quick-thinking police called the local Target manager and managed to replace the gifts that very evening just before the store closed, reported KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.

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