Police officers deliver Christmas cheer to local children.

December 23, 2019

– Contributed photo

Police officers deliver Christmas cheer to local children.

#RoysKids

OCEANA COUNTY — Over 200 Oceana County children in need received Christmas gifts from local law enforcement officers Saturday, Dec. 21, thanks to the Roy’s Kids program.

The charitable program was launched in 1994 by Roy Strait, who is the New Era police chief and a retired Oceana County sheriff’s deputy. Strait began the program as an outreach activity from his role as school liaison.

Strait said Roy’s Kids began with five families and has grown into serving 200 kids each year.

Some of the officers dress up like Santa when they deliver gifts to the homes in police cars. Strait said he started out with one Santa, but now he has four. Several elves also help hand out presents.

New Era Police Chief Roy Strait, at left, and Shelby Police Chief Bob Farber. 

Strait has been the “real Santa” behind this project, and he credits his wife Nancy for being his dedicated Mrs. Claus. “My wife Nancy does all the work,” he said.

“It’s just hard to explain the joy we all feel, seeing the children looking out the window when the squad car pulls up and Santa gets out,” Strait said. “I like the police officers to be friends with the kids.”

“The program reaches out and touches many families that would not have had a Christmas,” said Shelby Police Chief Bob Farber. Both Farber and Strait feel that the positive reinforcement and role models of the law enforcement officials adds a unique element to the program.

“Our Santas are very committed to this program – freely volunteering their time. We even have a Spanish-speaking elf in case translation is needed,” said Strait.

The program is a community effort, from churches and school staff providing items for families; Red Hat ladies donating toys, quilts and hats made by loving hands; sheriff’s office staff doing the shopping; and the victim services support group coming together for ‘Wrap Day.’

This year, Deb’s Cafe in Shelby provided 35 food baskets, and GHSP donated 23 turkeys to the families.

Department of Human Services provides the majority of referrals for the program. “We also try to fill immediate needs that crop up during the year, like winter jackets and boots,” adds Strait.

The toys are donated thanks to a $25,000 anonymous donation received a few years ago that was put into a fund with the Community Foundation for Oceana County, he said.

The donation provides long-term sustainability for the program. ”We couldn’t believe it when we heard about this generous donation. It’s such a blessing and very heartwarming to see the commitment of so many in the community to continue this program,” said Farber.

New Era Police Department, Shelby Police Department, Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and Ferry Township Fire Department participated in this year’s program.

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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