History of Operation
“Operation Santa Claus” began in 1973 in Wichita, Kansas
when Police Officer Richard Hastings related a story to the program director
of a local radio station. Officer Hastings had been working security
at a local shopping mall when he was approached by a young girl he knew,
who lived on the officer’s patrol. The girl asked if the officer
knew of any jobs she could do to earn some Christmas money, since there
would be no Christmas at her house without money. Officer Hastings had
no suggestions, but being aware of the circumstances of the girl’s
family, he discussed the situation with his own family that night at
supper. His 13-year old daughter offered to forego her new bicycle and
the whole family joined in…giving up the majority of their own
Christmas in order to be able to afford some gifts for this girl’s
This story brought forth a memory from the childhood of the radio station
program director. Returning to 3rd grade class from Christmas vacation,
his teacher took some time to go around the class and have everyone tell
what they’d received for Christmas. Each child had their turn…until
it came to one little girl with her head buried on her desk. The teacher
asked what was wrong. The girl raised her head, and through the tears
said, “Grandpa said we couldn’t afford Christmas this year”.
How could this be? Didn’t Santa Claus bring toys to all children
who were good? Seeing the hurt and pain this girl was going through stayed
with the radio station program director into his adulthood. Operation
Santa Claus” came from these two experiences. The program director
felt that the police officers were in the best position to know which
families needed their help and it would be up to the officers to do something
Today “Operation Santa Claus” is staffed by members of the
Shreveport Police Department, Shreveport Fire Department, and Bossier
Sheriff's Office. It is structured so that the public can trust their
donations are handled with care. The ONLY way a child is put on Santa's
list is by a member of the SPD, SFD, or BSO. Members submit names of
children they suspect may be left out at Christmas. The on-air talents
of Townsquare Media(AM 1130 KWKH, 710 KEEL, Kiss Country 93.7, K945,
96.5 KVKI, and 99X), ask listeners to call in and take responsibility
for one child, although once they get caught up in the spirit of the
program, many listeners end up sponsoring several children.
The toys Operation Santa Claus collects must be BRAND NEW and unwrapped.
Most of these children are all too familiar with hand-me-downs, second-hand
toys and the like. We want to give them something new…something
that is theirs and theirs alone. OSC also does not collect clothes or
food as there are many fine agencies in town that already take care of
these needs at Christmas time.
The listener who buys the toy for his/her sponsored child drops the
gift off either to the Townsquare MediaStudios or to a Citizens National
Bank. Members of OSC and volunteers then get together to organize, bag,
and label the gifts. Then, a few days before Christmas, the nominating
member delivers the gifts to the children, while in uniform and in a
marked vehicle when available.
The public gets a perfect opportunity to show support for their civil
servants, while helping less fortunate children. The members of the represented
departments reap the huge rewards of positive publicity and personal
satisfaction while children and their parents are spared the pain of
revisiting that scene from 3rd grade class so long ago.
We count on your help in this year’s “Operation Santa Claus” and
thank you for your donations. Merry Christmas.
- The O.S.C. Elves