By Douglas W. Motley
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department joined forces with the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Arrowhead Office at the sheriff’s Twin Peaks station on Wednesday, Dec. 22 , where The Alpine Mountaineer witnessed dozens of families who could not afford a traditional Christmas dinner pick up a turkey dinner, complete with all the usual trimmings.
Not only that, but their children were able to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. The parents took pictures of their kids talking with Santa.
After talking with Annabelle and Abigale, Santa Claus handed them some fuzzy, stuffed animals. Next, the youngsters headed to an adjoining room in what was, at one time, the courtroom at the county’s Twin Peaks office building, where they used markers to color a picture of Santa, while their mom was picking up a box containing their turkey dinner, along with canned vegetables and other useful kitchen items.
According to Twin Peaks station commander Capt. Don Lupear, this yearly event has been ongoing for approximately 10 years, with the exception of last year when it had been canceled due to COVID restrictions. However, deputies were able to deliver the turkey dinners and toys to about 25 deserving families last year.
The station’s assistant commander, Lt. Craig Harris, said 12 families showed up at the station this year to pick up their meals, while four more meals were delivered to the homes of families who had no way to get to the station.
When asked why the sheriff’s countywide “Shop with a Cop” program – where children are able to shop for toys, clothing and other gift items – was canceled this year, Harris said it was due to the recent arrival of several COVID variants, namely the so-called Delta variant and the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant.
“We had to cancel it due to the close proximity of the children to the deputies as they rolled their shopping carts up and down the aisles of the Wal-Mart store in Highland,” he said, adding, “Thanks to a grant from a local service club, we were able to treat one family to a day at Disneyland.”
Partnering with the Sheriff’s Department was the Arrowhead Area office of the CHP, which, once again this year, sponsored the agency’s annual CHIPs for KIDS toy drive. CHP Public Affairs Officer Jacob Griede told The Alpine Mountaineer, “We collected about 500 toys this year, many of which were toy cars, bikes, skateboards, scooters and Barbie dolls. We dropped them off at Rim Family Services, DOVES (Domestic Violence Education and Services) in Big Bear and a local Rotary Club.”
It is hoped that next year the program will be able to return to the previous in-person party for Christmas. The families who were involved this year had parents who were very appreciative of the toys and meals.