Donations help Santas in blue provide food for families in need

Wanda Southerland | GCA News

Historically, Santa Claus is a jolly, bearded man who wears a red suit, black belt and black boots. However, since 1961, many families know Santa by the blue uniform and badge they wear throughout the year. In addition to making children happy, these Santas in blue deliver boxes of food to families in need and personal items to elderly families.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (center) with Chief Anderson (L) and Christmas Basket Program volunteers. - photo by MNPD

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (center) with Chief Anderson (L) and Christmas Basket Program volunteers.             – photo by MNPD

The Christmas Basket program, now known as the non-profit Metro Police Christmas Charities, came into being when Sgt. Joe Casey recommended to his fellow officers in patrol that they collect money that might normally be spent on exchanging Christmas cards. The money would be used to purchase food for a needy family in the city. Back then, officers made less than $275 per month; however, enough money was collected that two families each to receive a basket of food.

Two years later, two civilian employees. Joy Pike and Carolyn Edwards, gave of their own money and collected donations that enabled three families to receive toys. A child of one family had only asked for a Slinky toy. With each passing year, the need for assistance during the Christmas season grew. Generosity from the community enabled more families to receive food and toys.

Within the past year or two, more than 500 children have received toys and each of those families received four bushel baskets of food. Those baskets contain 75 pounds of assorted canned vegetables, fresh vegetables, fruit, potatoes, bread, milk, eggs, chickens, sausage, flour, pasta, rice, dried beans, peanuts, cereal, and more.

Families are selected based on recommendations from police officers since these officers encounter numerous disadvantaged families on a daily basis. Sadly, every need can’t be met; therefore, careful consideration is given when choosing the neediest families.

The baskets and toys are assembled a week prior to Christmas and delivered on Christmas Eve.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to this worthy cause, contact Vanessa Sponaugle at