For many kids in our area, the joy of Christmas does not come easy. Many kids have to go without.
That's why local officers are taking matters into their own hands, and making sure these kids have gifts to wake up to on Christmas morning.
"If it wasn't for us they wouldn't have a Christmas, and that makes my Christmas," says Front Royal Police Officer Steve Mauck.
He's a part of the program, Operation Blue Christmas. It's funded by the Front Royal Police Foundation. Kids who can't afford much go shopping with officers for Christmas presents.
"It lets us know that there are people in this community that need help. It's very rewarding that we are able to give a small portion to these children," says Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett.
"It gives the kids a chance to see police officers in a different light, instead of only seeing them come to their house for domestic or drug problems. They think of the police as bad guys," says Mauck.
Shelley Mauck says the kids don't just buy games or dolls when they go shopping. "We ask the parents to send a list of wants and needs. So, they go through if they need a jacket, or shoes, or boots and we get that. Then they get to go through the toy aisle and that's the fun part."
"It's very humbling for me, to see these young children shop. They don't always shop for themselves, they shop for their siblings," says Chief Shiflett.
For many of the kids involved in the Operation Blue Christmas program, times are tougher than you could imagine.
Steve Mauck says a boy he's shopped with has a tough life. "Both of his parents are in prison. He's being raised by his great grandmother. We keep in contact with him, usually on a monthly basis."
The program tries to serve 50 or 60 kids, and they like to spend about $200 on each of them. They need more than $10,000 to make the program work.
Bettie Imus volunteers with the program and wraps gifts. "It just touches my heart when I think of the kids opening the gifts that they would not have had," she says.
After the kids go shopping with officers, the gifts are wrapped and they get a visit from Santa. They're not supposed to open the presents until Christmas morning. The program also provides give gift cards for the kids who are on the older and younger end of the spectrum.
This year's Operation Blue Christmas will be December 8th. To make a donation to Operation Blue Christmas, just send it to the Front Royal Police Department.