(KGTV) - Nearly 1,000 families in the South Bay smiled as they lined up outside of a Walmart in Chula Vista Tuesday morning.
Kids took photos with Santa Claus while their families were greeted by dozens of Chula Vista Police officers and volunteers who were ready to provide them with holiday meals and toys.
Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy was among the officers in the crowd giving back and meeting the families.
Kennedy said the families are chosen in various ways, some of her officers are given food vouchers to pass along to anyone they come across who may be in need.
“It’s a great opportunity for the officers to interact with people and for people to see there is a heart behind the badge,” she said. “The officers really care about their community.”
Hortencia Hernandez got in line with her 4-year-old son Xander and took pictures with the officers and volunteers from Athletes for Education and Walmart.
She said thanks to all of them, her family will have a Christmas meal on the table, including a whole turkey and all the fixings.
“Sometimes it’s hard as a working family to get dinner done,” said Hernandez. “It’s very helpful, especially during the holidays.”
That wasn’t the only reason she was smiling. The working mother says the fact that police officers took the time out of their day to make sure she has what she needs, meant the world to her.
“I hardly get to see any of the officers or talk to them and get that one on one, so it’s really nice to put the personality behind the badge,” she said.
Former San Diego Chargers player Luis Castillo was also on hand to help out where it was needed and to greet the fans in the South Bay he said always supported him no matter what.
“To see Police Chief Roxana, to see the Chula Vista Police Department, to see that they’ve kept this going, and the lines are just as long and they’re just as organized and they’re helping just as many people it’s quite amazing,” he said.
CVPD officers also raffled off bikes to 15 lucky kids.
In a statement, the department wrote “As we reflect on this holiday season, we are all thankful for what we have and what we are able to give to others. Together Chula Vista Police Department employees, AFE volunteers and Walmart employees encourage others to help those in need.”
The meals and toy donations were made possible by different sponsors.