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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dozens of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Monday gave Santa Claus a helping hand and checked off items on 80 local kids’ Christmas lists.

That’s double the amount of kids from 2019’s Clothe-A -Child program.

Michael Wolley, IMPD North District commander, has been a participating in the event for 10 years. He said it never gets old.

“My fondest memories are really those times where you get the little ones, and you get to take them all over the place and by the end of the day, you’ve really built this strong connection and bond,” Wolley said.

This year because of the coronavirus pandemic, things were different. The children in past years were picked up by the officers, and all spent the morning together shopping and having a party with Santa. This year, the officers had the children’s’ Christmas lists and did the shopping solo.

“I do really wish we were able to have those kids with us. There’s nothing like picking up the kids from their home taking them to breakfast allowing them to play with the officer ,” Wolley said.

The Indy Public Safety Foundation helps provide the funds for the event. Chrissy Wurster said the need in the community is greater this year because of the pandemic. The foundation raised more than $30,000 for the event. Each officer had $400 to $500 to spend per child.

“It is very meaningful this year. Everyone is going through hardships and we know what that’s like. We want to build this bridge between our first responders and the families they serve,” Wurster said.

Wolley said, “There’s nothing like being able to provide for those who my not be able to have that holiday experience.”

The IMPD commander said the event is more than about buying gifts. It’s also about giving the kids an experience the experience of a lifetime and showing the community IMPD is here to help.

“To be able to take some stress off of some of the families and provide for those kids, and to make sure they know that they’re loved by their parents and also law enforcement in the community as a whole,” Wolley said.

The officers are going to wrap the gifts and deliver them in the next few weeks.

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Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.