CHARLOTTE – Some 600 families are now looking at a merrier Christmas after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department delivered food and gifts to them as part of its Police Explorers Project.
"The parent or guardian has no clue how they're going to feed that child for those two weeks they're out of school,” said Capt. Kathy Nichols in regards to the families helped by Police Explorers. But, thanks to donors, each one of those 600 families got a 50-pound box of food and gifts this week in the 36th year of the program.
But this year comes with tragedy, as one of the biggest donors to the program was killed two days before the big giveaway. Tom Van Wingerden was killed this weekend in an accident at his company, Metrolina Greenhouse – which provides a poinsettia for each family’s box.
Meanwhile, the project was also impacted by a drop in donations this year. The group usually relies on the Marine’s Toys for Tots collection for 25 percent of their gifts. But officials say other groups helped fill the need since Toys for Tots has had a tough time collecting toys of its own this year.