With Worries About Toy Shortage, Chicago Police Turn Things AroundBy Jermont Terry

CHICAGO (CBS) — Santa’s helpers stopped by the Far South Side this Christmas Eve night, making sure thousands of children do not miss out on Christmas joy.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, it was Chicago Police who made sure an annual toy giveaway didn’t skip a beat.

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On this Christmas Eve, children were waiting anxiously outside the Sanctuary Family Worship Center, at 711 W. 120th St. in West Pullman, to get a gift. For some families, getting gifts to put under the Christmas tree is not a financially viable option.

“There’s times when, like, you don’t have a lot of money buy toys for your kids,” said Quenise McBride.

But McBride wanted to make sure her two kids, along with her nieces and nephews, would not go without this year.

“And then you’re just thankful for people like Pastor Jones who gives your kids toys, just because it’s what he does,” McBride said.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, Pastor Virgil Jones runs the Chicago Toy Depository, and comes outside with a big box of toys. The mission is to make sure no child is without Christmas Day.

“It’s something that they look forward to, because Pastor Jones, around the holiday time, he looks out for a lot of families who really pretty much need help,” McBride said.

This year, after 23 years of making the toy donation event happen, a major donor pulled out at the last minute.

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But in true Christmas spirit, help arrived.

“I was so concerned, and in one day, it turned around,” Jones said.

We’re talking about thousands of toys. With hours to spare, Chicago Police and other law enforcement agents brought in loads of toys – keeping the kids smiling.

“This is what we do. It says, you know, serve and protect – so we want to serve the community, and we want to protect the children’s hearts so they’re not broken during this time of year,” said Officer Claudia Martin of the group ChiCook Officers In Motion.

Pastor Jones said it is imperative that youngsters in West Pullman understand those who patrol stepped in.

“It’s very important that the young people – and allow me to say, our black young people – to know that the police care about them,” Jones said.

And it seems that the message is resonating.

“I’m thankful and happy for other people,” one girl said.

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As each child left with one gift or more in their hand, they learned how so many in the community played a key role in helping Pastor Jones along the way.