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Oakdale Police Take Santa Role To Heart
Oakdale resident Bob New, center, explains the intricacies of the handmade fire trucks he donated to Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller, left, and Lt. Joe Carrillo, after giving more than three dozen of the toys to the department for their holiday giveaways.

Just in the nick of time, a local toymaker – actually, a woodworker – made a special delivery to the Oakdale Police Department to help finish out gift bags being prepared for local youngsters.

Oakdale resident Bob New hand delivered some three dozen homemade fire trucks to the department on Thursday, spending several months carving out the toys from 4-by-4 blocks of wood.

“I do 10 at a time, it takes about a month to do that many,” New explained to Police Chief Scott Heller and Lt. Joe Carrillo, who were on hand to accept the donation.

Past years have seen the trucks go to the Children’s Guardian Home and the Center for Human Services, among others. This year, New chose the police department to receive the trucks.

Chief Heller said they would be used to help supplement gift bags being delivered to needy area youngsters for the holiday through the department’s ‘Blue Santa’ program.

“The Police Officers Association has also been very helpful to the Blue Santa,” Heller said, noting that the department receives names of kids in need and works to deliver bags of toys and other goods in time for the Christmas holiday.

Blue Santa and the Santa Cop program – in which officers on patrol can randomly present gifts to kids – have helped to buoy the spirits of the department during the holidays, said Heller.

School Resources Officer Guillermo Manriquez worked in cooperation with the schools to get names of kids and officers planned to distribute the bags starting on Thursday night. That meant the delivery of fire trucks was just in time to add to the Blue Santa effort.

Both Heller and Carrillo said they were amazed at the detail in the trucks and jokingly asked if New could switch next year to making police cars.

“We ask for three kids from each school and then we do gifts, not just for that student but also their siblings,” Manriquez added of the Blue Santa program.

“All of our officers have been involved in the ‘Santa Cop’ effort,” Carrillo noted. “When our officers have contact with folks in the community, they also look to see if it’s an appropriate time to hand the gifts out to children.”

Chief Heller said there was no shortage of participation from the community in giving to the various efforts.

“It has been great, all the different involvement,” he said of local residents stepping up to help youngsters have a happy holiday season.

Working to fill some gift bags for the Blue Santa distribution program is School Resources Officer Guillermo Manriquez.