About 100 law enforcement officers from nine agencies participated in the recent Operation T.O.Y.S. event in Jefferson City, where they took underprivileged children Christmas shopping.
Operation T.O.Y.S. stands for “Take our youth shopping”. Jefferson City Police officer Les Martin, who coordinates the event, says 101 mid-Missouri children were selected.
“It was a big frenzy of fun, happiness and it brings tears to your eyes because you get to help those in need,” Martin says. “And really how better of a way that we can give back to our community than to give back to our kids.”
The convoy of police vehicles transporting the children to Walmart East on Saturday morning was more than one mile long on Highway 50.
Community donations funded the event, which included Santa Claus and the crime prevention dog McGruff. Officer Martin notes each child was able to purchase $150 in gifts at the Walmart.
“And each officer knows that if you go over that allotted amount, it’s going to come out of their (the officers) pocket. They do it freely, they always do it because they love the kids and they want to have fun,” says Martin.
Martin describes it as the “gift of giving.” A Missourinet reporter observed many of the children buying for their brothers, sisters and parents. Some of the children lacked winter coats and gloves, and bought those items.
Nine law enforcement agencies participated in the event, including Jefferson City and Holts Summit Police, along with Cole County Sheriff’s deputies. Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler, who also brought the Sheriff’s Posse, describes it as an awesome event.
“I never have a problem with getting volunteers for this. I never have an issue with getting volunteers for this program. So, it’s really a good deal,” Wheeler says.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol also participated, along with Capitol Police, Lincoln University Police and officers from the Algoa, Jefferson City and Tipton Correctional Centers.
Sheriff Wheeler also thanks Central Bank and Walmart for their assistance.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Jefferson City Police officer Les Martin, which was recorded on December 15, 2018 at Walmart East in Jefferson City:
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler, which was recorded on December 15, 2018 at Walmart East in Jefferson City:
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