ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Some St. Lucie County students had an exciting start to their holiday break, thanks to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
Stepping off of their bus to walk home Friday afternoon, Sheriff Ken Mascara and several deputies were waiting for them at the end of the street.
Asking students if they were good in school, Sheriff Mascara handed them red bags stuffed with toys.
“Merry Christmas! Are you a good student in school? Well, Santa wanted us to make sure you had this. Merry Christmas and keep doing good in school, alright?” Mascara said.
Deputies were also given red bags filled with gifts and told to ‘find kids’ to give them to.
This was the first time the Sheriff's Office hosted the Santa Cop Program, the final holiday event planned over the last couple of weeks.
That included giving gifts to pediatric patients at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, to the annual Shop with a Cop program.
It has become an annual tradition to find new ways to give back to the community every holiday season.
“I mean, when you have kids just hug on you, there’s nothing better,” Mascara said.
Parents, like Luv Lima, were surprised to see the law enforcement presence at their child’s bus stop Friday.
“I thought they were coming to do traffic control because it’s a bad stop. All of a sudden, they pulled up with all of these presents which I thought was super cool,” Lima said.
It helps deputies be even more effective on the job.
“It’s all about relationships. We want that young child or young adult to come here and see us in a different light than just a law enforcement function,” Mascara said.
It gives deputies a gift in return: stronger relationships and growing trust among the community.
All of the gifts were donated by community partners.
Friday, the Sheriff’s Office also adopted a family in need to help through the holidays.
They delivered a mother and her four children, ages 1- to 13- years-old, gift cards for food and bags of presents. The Sheriff’s Office also paid for several nights in a hotel. The mother recently became homeless but is working to provide for her family.