Capt. Jerry Wright brings presents to a family during the EPD Blue Christmas event.

The Christmas season in Emporia brings law enforcement and children together to shop for presents for the youth. Approximately a month before Christmas, the shop with a cop event was canceled due to COVID-19.

Instead of allowing disappointment to ruin the holiday season, Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw reached out to the EPD members searching for an answer to the dilemma. He received the response he was searching for.

“Some of the folks came up with the idea of doing Blue Christmas for our community,” Pinksaw said. “Rather than shopping with the kids at Walmart, the officers went out and shopped for the kids, and wrapped the gifts. We also provided meals, turkeys and food baskets.”

Forty-seven children and 19 families were the beneficiaries of the efforts of the EPD. The officers set up a drive-thru collection site in front of the police department on Budd St. From 2-5 p.m., recipients of the gifts and food came to the site to receive their Christmas packages. For those that did not come to Budd St., police officers were more than happy to deliver the items to them.

Nearly every EPD officer and staff member played a significant role in pulling off what turned out to be a successful Blue Christmas event. Many officers had had the day off on distribution day. It didn’t stop them from showing up and assisting.

The funds for Blue Christmas came from the EPD “No Shave for Charity” program. Officers can grow beards and goatees for $20 a month. The revenue collected is distributed to charities in the community.

Pinksaw said officers spent more than $4,000 for the Blue Christmas bundles. Walmart and the Fraternal Order of Police played a large role in Blue Christmas.

“It’s exciting,” Pinksaw said. “The officers came together and had a great time. 2020 has been tough, based on COVID-19, but let’s be honest. We’ve seen stuff throughout the whole country with police protests and demonstrations. What we wanted to do is give back to our community. That’s the important thing — to show that we care and we love them.”