GLENDALE (CBSLA.com) — Police in Glendale hit the streets Friday with a bit of a different mission: bringing Christmas joy to the city's neediest.
First stop: the Aguilar family.
Three-year-old Ronnie jumped for joy when Glendale police showed up with a Christmas tree for his family. They didn't have anything for the seven kids last year because dad had lost his job.
"My parents went through a lot, and we didn't really have presents for my brothers and this year," said Jarely Aguilar, 13. "We're going to have a second chance. It makes me happier for them."
It's all thanks to the Cops for Kids program, started by the Glendale Police Officers Association. It raises money throughout the year, then officers adopt underprivileged families and buy Christmas trees and presents for them. And during the holidays, the officers get to see a priceless payoff.
"To actually see these children's faces light up, this isn't gonna be a negative contact, this is a positive contact for law enforcement," officer Bryan Duncan said. "It's very very heartwarming."
"This is great," Chief Robert Castro said. "We see a lot of tragedy every day on our job, so to be able to see the excitement and be able to give back to kids and families that are truly in need, that means the world to us."
The next stop brought us to the Aghakhani home.
Ten-year-old Anna's mom passed away when she was 4, and her dad works very hard to raise her on his own. Anna says getting a tree and lights meant the world to her. She translated what her dad wanted to say.
"Thank you so much for being here. You made us so happy," she said. "And God bless you guys."
But the giving didn't end with the trees. There are the presents that these officers, their families and volunteers bought, wrapped and delivered.
Violeta Zepeda's family couldn't wait for their arrival. The mom of two said she doesn't have a lot of money to spend on her daughters because her dad became ill recently.
"I just want to thank everyone, and I hope you guys keep helping families like us," Zepeda said.
In all, the officers delivered trees and gifts to 22 families this year. Although there are many more stories of struggles and hardship, Cops for Kids wants Glendale to remember this: "Your Police Department cares about you and we want you to have a very merry Christmas."
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