THE ALVIN BLUE SANTA PROGRAM

OUR HISTORY

The Alvin Blue Santa Program was founded in 1998 by officers of the Alvin Police Department Bike Patrol Unit.  The purpose was to raise funds in order to purchase bicycles for children in the community who would not be getting much for Christmas.  It was also an opportunity for these children and their families to have positive interaction with their local police officers.

Since then the program has grown immensely. The first year, officers and volunteers delivered around a dozen bicycles to children in the community.  From 1998 to 2003, the number of bikes and helmets given away increased as donations came in from individuals, civic organizations, and local businesses.  Another boost to the program took place due to an interactive partnership with the Houston Police Department’s Blue Santa Program and then-president Officer Joe Pyland and coordinator Officer Jack Hanagriff.  Bikes received from HPD’s program almost doubled the number of bikes given away those years.

In 2003, then brand new coordinator, Denise Stanaland, suggested and coordinated the first Alvin Blue Santa Motorcycle Ride.  It was a huge success, raising thousands of dollars for the program and is still the organization’s primary fund raiser.  In 2013, we held our 10thAnnual Alvin Blue Santa Motorcycle Ride which included a live band, silent and live auctions, vendor booths, raffles, door prizes, and trophies presented to individual riders as well as motorcycle clubs.  Since our ride is a “blue” (law enforcement), criminal motorcycle gangs do not participate.  We’ve been blessed with the support of law enforcement motorcycle clubs such as The Blue Knights, Los Canales, Los Familia, Thin Blue Line and faith-driven clubs like the Christian Motorcycle Association.

In the beginning, the program operated under the umbrella of the Alvin Police Officers Association, but as of 2011, we were awarded 501C3 tax exempt status as a non-profit organization.  The board consists of mostly civilian volunteers who have long ago made the program theirs. 

HOW WE DO IT

Due to the problematic system of accepting applications for the program from anyone, we developed a partnership with the Alvin Independent School District.  In this partnership, we send nomination forms to the individual schools within the AISD, which include schools in Alvin, Manvel, Liverpool, and portions of Pearland.  These forms are completed and returned by the people who know the children in the district better than anyone else: their teachers, counselors, and school administrators. 

The Alvin Blue Santa Board reviews all of the nominations and ranks them in order of priority.  We ask that all “sponsors” (those doing the nominating) include all siblings of their nominees in order to get bikes to those children who aren’t AISD students yet.  Traditionally, on the last Thursday before Christmas break, we hold our Annual Alvin Blue Santa Christmas party.  Those nominated receive a special invitation (given to the student’s school for distribution) to the party and the announcement that their entire family is invited to join them.

THE CHRISTMAS PARTY

The Christmas party has usually been held at Alvin Junior High.  As each family arrives, they are checked in from the invitation list and every child receives a door prize ticket.  At the front of the cafeteria is a long line of tables, about 70’ long, and it is covered with toys. Toys are piled under the tables as well, since there is never enough room for everything on top of them.  Throughout the evening, ticket numbers are called and each ticket holder is invited to come up, look the tables over, and choose a toy. While that is taking place, the names of the bike recipients are called also. They’re greeted by officers and other volunteers who escort them to receive their bike. After the volunteer assures the bike fits properly and is adjusted to the child, they are escorted to a station where they are fitted for a new bike helmet and the bike’s serial number is recorded in case it is ever stolen.

Sometime in the middle of the party, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive under police escort for their special visit.  The Clauses (Robert and Denise Stanaland) give out gifts and candy as the children gather around them for hugs, kind words of encouragement, and photo opportunities.  Food, drinks, and treats are enjoyed by all the entire evening.

WHAT ELSE WE DO

We’re known best for giving away bicycles and helmets, but like you’ve already read, we also have an awesome party.  What some don’t realize is we also give college scholarships to students of Alvin and Manvel High Schools.  Since we’re all about community, our scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors who are attending Alvin Community College. 

We also have a Shop with Blue Santa’s Helpers, which is traditionally held at Walmart in Alvin and enables us to make Christmas a little better for children who are a little too old for a bicycle.  In this program, each recipient is given a $100 gift card and escorted through the store by the ABS volunteers as they shop for their Christmas presents.  Sometimes its toys and teddy bears that are chosen; sometimes it’s music CDs and make-up.  Whatever is purchased, it’s always done with big smiles on everyone’s faces.  As a volunteer in the program, our “paycheck” is being at the party and participating in the Shop with Blue Santa’s Helpers.

SPECIAL INSTANCES OF NEED

Occasionally, we learn of a family who has befallen a tragedy or other misfortune, and we reach out to them as well.  In one year, we learned of two separate families who lost everything they owned when their homes burned down.  During the Shop with Blue Santa Program, each child in the household received a $100 gift card and the parents received $500 gift cards.  While moms and dads shopped to replace household goods, their children were shopping for Christmas. 

HOW ARE WE DOING?

Funny you should ask…  We have a strong core of volunteers who knock themselves out every year, year after year, to make this program work and stay alive, but it is going to take more than a strong core.  As the program has grown, the number of volunteers has not grown proportionately.  If this program is going to continue, we need your help.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the Alvin Blue Santa Program Committee, please contact us.

Thank you,

Bobby Taylor

Program Founder

 

 

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