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Santa without the suit

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Police collect donations for 66 Nelson County kids

By Frank Johnson

For 66 Nelson County children this year, Santa’s vehicle for spreading Christmas cheer will be a police cruiser instead of the traditional reindeer-drawn sleigh. The Bardstown Police Department has teamed up with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department to collect gifts and donations as part of the agencies’ sixth annual “Christmas for Kids.”

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The gifts were distributed to parents and family members Tuesday evening at the Bardstown Police Station where officer Jason Woodson, who helped organize the event this year, reviewed “wish lists” with applicants.

One of those applicants was Danielle Spalding, a mother of two young girls, and she smiled as Woodson informed her they had been able to purchase all the items for which she had asked. After her short meeting with Woodson, several officers came down the hallway carrying bags bulging with presents.

Out in the parking lot of the police department, Spalding loaded up the back seat of her car with the donations and said her daughters, age 3 and 5, had different requests for Santa this year. The youngest was interested in “anything ‘Toy Story’” while the older one preferred the traditional set of Barbie Dolls and “Sleeping Beauty”-related items.

With the help of the donations, Spalding said she would be able to fulfill those requests.

“They buy so much good stuff for them, it’s unbelievable,” she said.

This is especially important to Spalding, a working mother, whose job does not always pay enough for her to provide everything she wants for her daughters.

“I can’t do as much as I want to,” she said. “On Christmas morning, this is their Santa.”

Started six years ago, “Christmas for Kids” pairs the manpower of law enforcement officers with the donations of local businesses and individuals. Woodson has been with the Bardstown force for five years and helped lead the annual holiday effort each season.

The officers have been working since September on the project, and Woodson said the experience has been a good one.

“For one, we care. We care about the people of this community,” Woodson said. “Some of the kids don’t get to see the good side of us. It shows that we truly care and want to serve and help.”

Those interested in the program apply through the Police Department, which then screens the applicants and draws up a list. That list is cross-checked with Community Action to make sure the names aren’t being duplicated in any other local gift-giving programs.

With the list finalized, Woodson said the officers then began asking businesses and individuals to help. He emphasized that 100 percent of the donations go to kids, including all $4,282 raised.

“All the money we received went straight to presents,” he said.

The presents Woodson bought are based on what the kids say they want and what the parents say the kids need, which often means the bundles of gifts can include video games alongside packages of diapers. If he needs any further help in determining what to buy, Woodson said he turns to his in-house consultants.

“I have two little girls (who) give me good ideas,” he said. “I can go off of what they like.”