Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police played Santa on Tuesday, giving away presents and food to local families.
This holiday season, the department will help more than 600 families.
Officers, volunteers and teens from the Police Explorer program loaded up gifts for nearly 100 families in the Westover community on Tuesday morning.
“Our lord set the example with giving so we want to give back to the community,” said Capt. Stella Patterson with the Westover division.
Teams spread out, making stops in neighborhoods along West Boulevard and dropping off presents donated by individuals and businesses.
Sopafroina Stevenson is a single mother of four and before Tuesday’s visit, she said, she didn't think she could make Christmas bright for her children.
“Everyone's lucky, lucky to get the assistance -- blessed,” Stevenson said. “It's a hard time for everyone, financially and economically. It's hard.”
Home by home, they spread holiday cheer, trying to strengthen the relationship between police and the community.
Trisha Norket has volunteered for 18 years, ever since her son, Officer John Burnette, was killed in the line of duty.
“I'm here today to spread a little joy and love to families, and to support law enforcement officers and firefighters and support the Explorers to do this,” she said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Explorer Post Christmas Project began in 1974. The department distributes a food box with a ham, a fruit box, and gifts for the children.