Stow City Council had their final meeting of the year on December 17th and despite the tough circumstances brought on by 2020, their was plenty of praise to go around for the Stow Police Department and Chief Jeff Film.
On December 12th, 15 different families and over 30 kids in Stow were surprised by Stow Police as they commenced “Operation Blue Santa”. As Santa rode around town in an armored SWAT vehicle, officers donated almost $10,000 worth of gifts in total to families in need.
Stow Police Chief Jeff Film said, “Stow residents, going out to Stow businesses and getting gift cards, giving them to us so we can donate them to Stow kids in need, I mean, what a fantastic year (for charity).”
“Operation Blue Santa” was the brain-child of Officer Bethany Childers, Chief Film and the Stow City Council after their annual city-wide fundraiser “Shop With A Cop” had to be cancelled due to logistical difficulties involved with COVID-19.
Stow is normally the regional hub for 20 other departments participating in the nationwide “Shop With A Cop” program. City Council and the police department took this challenge upon themselves to set an example and show an alternative solution to other departments.
“We wanted to put Santa in an armored vehicle in the turret and have the officers go out and buy the gifts and deliver them to the families with Santa as part of it. She actually nicknamed it Operation Blue Santa as kinda being funny and I told her, ‘That’s a fantastic name for it.’,” said Chief Film.
This idea came to fruition last Saturday as the department began their trek around Stow with Santa Claus. All of the donated gifts came from Stow residents and business owners, as well as cash donations from public servants.
Aside from the high volume of donations, the response to “Operation Blue Santa” was positive. Sandy Allen is a Stow resident and grandmother of two young boys. She said that seeing the tide of police cars go through town accompanying Santa was a highlight in an otherwise gloomy year.
“It is just something nice to see, you know? There has been so much negative going on this year from COVID, to everything else going on that it’s just a welcomed change. Normally when I see police lights I think of being pulled over so it is a good message to get out as well that these police and this city really cares about its neighbors,” said Allen.
It was not just the general public who had high praise for “Operation Blue Santa” though, as Mayor John Pribonic commended public servants and citizens alike for their participation in local charities during Thursday’s council meeting.
“This is the backbone of our community and this is what makes our community special,” said Mayor Pribonic.
For more information on the Stow Police Department and their efforts in the community, visit their Facebook page.
The City of Stow is always taking donations across the city to help those in need but especially during the Holiday season. For more information on how to donate visit https://stowohio.org and click the “community assistance” tab.