APD's Operation Blue Santa toy drop-off held at Zilker Park

For 49 years, Austin Police Operation Blue Santa has helped get gifts into the hands of families in need during the holidays.

Normally, the Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade is the largest contributor, bringing in batches of donated gifts. However, this year and last year it was canceled due to COVID-19.

"I thought, why can’t we do something and still give back to the community?" said Laura Pandorf, who’s married to an APD officer. "Why can’t we organize something where we as a blue family can come together and get some donations?"

Pandorf decided to organize a toy drop-off event at Zilker Park Saturday afternoon followed by a "police procession" gift delivery to the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road.

"Because of the pandemic we decided not to do the parade this year, which is very sad, it’s one of my favorite things to do every year," said APD Chief Joseph Chacon. "But this is just another way we can continue to collect toys for the kids."

When it was first launched, Operation Blue Santa was able to help about 20 families. This year, they plan to serve over 8,000 families.

Operation Blue Santa is still accepting new, unwrapped gifts for children up to 14 years of age through the first couple weeks of December.

To make a monetary donation online or find a list of drop-off locations, click here.

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