December 24, 2013

Gift bags bring joy to needy children

By DUANE NOLLEN The Oskaloosa Herald
The Oskaloosa Herald

---- — OSKALOOSA — Police officers helped needy kids have a merry Christmas Friday and Monday by distributing gifts that they and other public safety officials and businesses bought for them.

The Oskaloosa Police Association, the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Posse, the Oskaloosa Firefighters Association, Wiggs and Wal-Mart teamed up to assist the Southern Iowa Economic Development Association with buying Christmas presents for needy children.

A Christmas tree stood at Wal-Mart with Christmas stockings that contained information such as the age and gender of a child and what that child might need. A shopper could stop at the tree, pick up a stocking and buy a present for the child.

The presents were divided and sacked up for distribution at the Oskaloosa Police Department on Friday and Monday.

Oskaloosa Police Community Service Officer Brandon Blanchard said present distribution began at 9 a.m Friday and would last until 5 p.m. On Monday, distribution had the same hours.

“It took a couple of weeks to get everything all together,” Blanchard said. Police officers helped get the presents organized whenever they had a chance, he added.

“We’ve been taking names since before Thanksgiving,” Oskaloosa Police Administrative Assistant Heather Blommers said. “We get names from SIEDA.”

Blommers said officers sacked 291 bags of presents for children. This past year, there were more than 300 bags of presents, she added.

“It’s been a fun experience,” Blanchard said. “It feels good. We’re ready to help out the community whenever we can. We love doing it.”

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com