By Moses Leos III
Tears welled in the eyes of Kyle resident Nancy Charlez when she saw what awaited her and her two children at Wallace Middle School Friday.
For Charlez, who recently went through a divorce, she didn’t think she would be able to afford a Christmas for her two girls, Adriana and Alexandria.
But through the help of the Kyle Blue Santa program, the Charlez family not only was able to get a complete holiday meal, but also a variety of Christmas presents for her kids. For Charlez, receiving assistance was a blessing she didn’t take lightly.
“It’s so awesome to know they are actually here to help people,” Charlez said. “It’s very cool. This is awesome that they are able to give back to the community.”
The Kyle Police Employees Association (KPEA), under president and Kyle Police officer Jason Dibble, leads Kyle’s Blue Santa giveaway program.
The program assists families in need of assistance who otherwise may not have a holiday. Families register for Blue Santa by applying for help. Requirements include that the family must reside in Kyle, and that children must be between the ages of 3 and 14 years old.
Blue Santa then aids them by offering a complete holiday meal. In addition, the program also provides gifts and presents for children, which in some cases may include a free bicycle.
According to Dibble, the program, which first started in 1999, “started really small.”
“It was run by the police department and the city,” Dibble said. He said the first few giveaways were held at Historic Kyle City Hall in downtown Kyle.
Since the program’s inception, Dibble said it has taken off, growing “beyond expectation.”
“We started with giving 15 to 20 bicycles. Now it’s more the bikes, more the presents, the food that goes out to people,” Dibble said.
This year Blue Santa served 96 Kyle families, which constituted one of the largest giveaways to date.
The program in 2015 gave away 41 complete holiday meals. In addition, the program served over 300 children with gifts, which included 70 bicycles and 26 razor scooters.
Dibble said donations from the community play a vital role in the program’s success. During the course of the year, Blue Santa conducts various toy donation drives, along with fundraising programs, such as the annual Pancake Breakfast.
While Blue Santa also provides assistance during the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s during Christmas when Dibble said the program’s importance is felt.
“It helps in so many ways and it brings joy to everyone,” Dibble said. “I don’t know what is more important than this – to show that we do care. That we’re not just the police, but we’re human and also people. It’s very important.”
Kyle resident Araceli Estrada, who recently moved to the area, also lauded the importance of the program.
Araceli, an unemployed stay-at-home mother, said Christmas wasn’t something that was thought of this year. It wasn’t until a friend referred her to the Blue Santa program that she applied.
Watching her children play with the bicycles they received from the Blue Santa program also brought tears to her eyes.
“This is the first time (my children) get something like that. They are so excited for that,” Araceli said. “Thank you so much (to Blue Santa) for all of these presents for my kids.”
For Dibble, seeing a child’s face light up when they receive a new bike or a toy they weren’t expecting for Christmas is an emotional moment.
Something he calls “the best feeling in the world.”
“You see people you don’t expect to see, they come in and they are really appreciative,” Dibble said. “It makes you feel good.”