By Mary O’KEEFE
For about two decades the Glendale Police Dept. has reached out to the community during the holidays to bring toys, clothes and other forms of support to local families in need. Officers make Christmas easier for these families by first delivering a Christmas tree and then bringing gifts to go under the tree, but Amy Tate, chairperson for Glendale Cops for Kids, wanted to do more. So the Cops for Kids Clothing Drive was born.
On Saturday, invited families came to the GPD community room and shopped from rows and rows of clothing, shoes, accessories and even toys. This was the first time for this makeshift free store and, from the amount of clothes gathered and happy shopping families, it appeared to be a great success.
“They are delighted,” Tate said of the 25 families who came to shop. Fifty families had been invited. “We wanted to keep in contact with them, not just invite them at Christmas but to let them know we are here the whole year.”
She added the families were very excited about the new program.
“We found a lot of stuff,” said Karen Aguilar, who was there with her family.
She is a senior in high school and found clothes not only for high school but also for when she goes to college too. Her brothers and sisters were all able to find clothes as well, and so did her mom.
“[A lot of times] moms don’t get anything,” she said. Aguilar was happy that her mom was able to find nice clothing for herself.
In addition to GPD personnel donating to the drive, local businesses also contributed. These included Towne House Cleaners in Glendale that donated clothing and loaned one clothing rack; Hall & Chambers Real Estate in Glendale donated clothing; Kohls in Simi Valley donated thousands of hangers; Choice 1 Cleaners in Simi Valley donated 500 hangers; Joe’s Cleaners in Simi Valley donated hangers; American Rent All in Tarzana loaned five clothing racks; Ray Rangwala at Esteem Cleaners in Pasadena loaned five clothing racks; Glendale Unified School District loaned 20 clothing racks.
GPD Explorers were on hand to volunteer at the event.
“I did recognize some of the families,” said GPD Cadet Richard Park. He has been with the officers when they delivered gifts to homes during the holidays.
“There was a little girl [shopping] from one of the first houses I delivered Christmas gifts to,” Park added.
Cadet Brandon Budwig said it felt good to help the families.
“It makes me feel happy that our department is doing this for the community,” Budwig added.
This type of outreach is good for local families and for law enforcement. Due to the nature of the job many times local residents’ interaction with officers comes from a negative situation. This is a way to reach families, especially young children, in a positive light.
“It boosts officers’ morale as well,” Tate said.
Officers, families and friends donated the free store items. Since this is the first year for the Cops for Kids Clothing Drive, the date for the next event of this kind is still in the planning. But seeing the families as they hugged the officers and walked away with new-to-them clothing, there is little doubt that this new part of the program was a success.