PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police officers in the Pittsburgh area are spending this month making sure children enjoy their holidays despite unfortunate circumstances.
Police officers make their presence felt at Children’s Hospital. Make that, “presents.”
More than 50 officers from dozens of area departments are taking part in the annual “Presents from Police.” Aspinwall officer David Nemec started the event six years ago.
“Every present that’s given, it’s just one extra smile,” he says. “And even collecting toys, they’re not so much giving toys, as another smile.”
Co-founder Mike Vith of Millvale is also a big fan of events like this.
“We’re not the bad guys everybody thinks we are,” he said. “We do have hearts. We all have kids. We all have families, and we understand what’s going on. But these are some of the things we like to do.”
More than two dozen police departments collected and distributed gifts. Young Landon’s mom is impressed by the effort.
“It’s incredible. I can’t believe they go through all this hard work to get toys for these kids,” she said. “They deserve it, though. They’ve been through so much, all of them.”
Officers say it really is better to give than to receive.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done all year,” one adds.
Landon thinks it’s also pretty cool to receive.
Meanwhile in Wilkinsburg, the police station is jam packed with Christmas gifts. Lt. Michele Krempasky and Police Chief Ophelie “Cookie” Coleman sort through gifts for kids in low-income families.
“What we do is we establish a list of those individuals and get their names, how old they are, and their addresses,” Lt. Krempasky says. “All of our officers participate. Every single officer. We load them up into the police cars. And we knock on your door, and physically deliver these gifts.”
First, they pick up the gifts at the Police Athletic League in Monroeville Mall. Former narcotics officer Jimmy Cvetic has been collecting gifts for the underprivileged for 46 years. Thanks to Cvetic and other volunteers, more than 10,000 donated toys will be delivered to police departments, who then take them to excited children.
“We’re just glad we can share Christmas with so many families,” he says. “That’s the beauty of it all.”
He says the magic is reflected in an elf his organization created.
“I think everyone has an elf in themselves. So we actually trademarked this from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although it’s not the black and gold, because elf colors couldn’t be. But it’s forever young.”
He works with Amy Roy, head of “Neighbors for Neighbors,” and with many other charitable organizations. He does it for children he doesn’t know.
“We’re sharing this beauty, this wonderment,” he says. “That’s the magic of it all.”