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Blue Santa makes special deliveries

By Robyn Claridy
Dec. 21, 2011 at 11 p.m.

Two-year-old A.K. Moody leapt into Longview Police Lt. Ron Buckner's arms Wednesday after receiving a stack of presents that stood taller than him.

Longview police brought Christmas cheer to a west Longview family as part of their annual Blue Santa holiday program.

Santa brought dozens of gifts to A.K.; his two brothers, LaSedrick Pope Jr. and Jamie White; and his cousin, Daleon Moody.

The children's grandmother, Lisa Johnson, said she contacted the police department a few weeks ago to see if there was any way the children could get toys through the program, but they told her the deadline had passed.

"Yesterday I got a phone call saying there was someone who wanted to help," Johnson said. "We're grateful that the police department was able to do this for us. We didn't know what we were going to do for them. Thank God my babies got something for Christmas."

Johnson said she's been trying to get on her feet since she lost her home in a house fire a few years ago.

"I just moved here a month ago," Johnson said of her Shely Street residence. "Times have been hard and I've been struggling."

Daleon said it was cool to see Santa, and LaSedrick couldn't wait to unwrap one of his gifts that had torn wrapping paper.

Buckner said about 25 percent of the toys were donated by community members, while the remaining 75 percent of funds were monetary donations from police officers and other city employees.

The Blue Santa program was started by Buckner in 2007 when he saw a need to serve children who didn't necessarily see police officers in a positive light.

"Our goal is to take care of children," Buckner said. "Some children only see us when we're arresting mom or dad, and we want them to see us differently. We hope that it will make a difference in their lives."

Through the donations, Blue Santa was able to serve from 53 to 55 families this year, including 175 children, he said.



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