On Tuesday, the National City Police Department, along with other organizations, had its annual family Christmas giveaway.
The event has been running for nearly 12 years and provides a Christmas meal for a few dozen National City families as well as toys for children.
National City Police Department spokesman Sgt. Julian Villagomez has been participating in the event since its inception and said it’s a wonderful way to give back to the community during the holidays.
“It started off small, going to houses, but as it got bigger it became easier to have it here (at the department),” Villagomez said. “Also, it makes it a little more personal for them.”
Other agencies including the San Diego chapter of the National Latino Police Officers Association, Foodland IGA and the San Diego Low Rider Community, as well as the City Council participated in the event.
Foodland IGA provides the Christmas meals for the families, while toys are donated from the low rider community as well as the U.S. Marine Corps, according to Villagomez.
This year 26 National City families, who are chosen each year from local schools, participated in the event.
While typically 25 families are chosen each year, the number of children varies and range in age from 5 to 12 years old.
Villagomez said the event is another opportunity to bring the community together.
“It brings us as law enforcement, public servants, together with the community,” he said. “This kind of gives us an opportunity to interact with the community on a positive level and strengthen the ties between the community. It makes you want to keep giving back.”
In addition, approximately 200 families showed up last night at Foodland IGA on Highland Avenue to pick up Christmas dinners.
Approximately 10 officers volunteered to participate in Tuesday’s event, which provided each child with two wrapped presents as well as a few more toys.
Mayor Ron Morrison said the event had the best turnout he’s seen over the years.
“This was the largest showing of council members we’ve had show up,” Morrison said.
Morrison has participated since the event began.
“You get to see families who in most cases don’t have a lot for Christmas time either in a meal or presents for their kids, so for their kids to get presents and be able to do it within the police department it’s a totally different experience,” he said.
Morrison also said it provides an opportunity for community interaction with police officers.
“Everybody does a really great job on these types of programs,” Morrison said. “It’s a time of need in this community where people have really risen to the occasion. They realize that the community really cares about them.”