History of Operation Santa Claus

 

“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 family.

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 about it.

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

 

 
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